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At the top of the tree vs Up a tree

at the top of the tree —(also: at the top of the heap)

1. as high as possible in one’s career or profession:

  • You’re asking us to believe that a man right at the top of his particular tree, is going to commit forgery.

2. of the highest rank within a group of items:

  • You may be selling products on behalf of another company, or you might be the company at the top of the tree…

up a tree

1. (coll.) in trouble or difficulty (also: up a gumtree):

  • The news that no hotel accommodations were obtainable left me rather up a tree.

2. (sl.) alcohol intoxicated:

  • Only two glasses of booze and he was up a tree for sure.


a) The expression does not correlate in meaning with the phrase up the pole—(sl.)

1. (UK) confused or muddled:

  • The Pope told Galileo that he was up the pole for pretending the world was round.

2. (Irish) pregnant:

  • “Is she up the pole?”“Better ask Seymour that.”

b) The expression is not antonymous in meaning to the phrase out of one’s tree(sl.) crazy; lacking common sense:

  • I do believe that Bill was out of his tree when he made this decision.