Keep Your Eye On The Bottom Line With Business Idioms

Businessman on chart 524055191What goes up what must come down and, accordingly, there are more than a few idioms related to exactly that – the bottom half of things:

The Bottom Falls Out Of (Something) – a sudden and dramatic fall in price or value

  • Even the most experienced investors were worried when the bottom fell out of the housing market; prices fell so fast that no one knew what to do.

Note: A variant of this idiom uses “drop” instead of “fall” but in either case this, the principal verb, must be modified to maintain grammatical structure.

Bottom Line – the final figure on a balance sheet or other financial document (typically this is the total)

  • “Don’t worry about going over the specifics, just give me the bottom line: are we are going to make a profit this quarter or not?”

Note: As the above example illustrates, the bottom line can also be used to refer to the main (or most important) point in a discussion.

The Bottom of the Barrel – of low quality

  • It seems like the company’s latest ideas were from the bottom of the barrel; after many years of innovation they may be running out of steam.

Note: Imagine (the quality of) a piece of fruit located at the bottom of a pile or barrel and you will understand this idiom immediately.

To Bottom Out – to reach the bottom of something

  • After six months of declines many investors believe that the stock has finally bottomed out and now represents a good investment opportunity.

Note: A related idiom “to reach rock bottom” is a more dramatic way of expressing basically the same idea.

Bet One’s Bottom Dollar – to take a final chance (with your final reserves of money)

  • After everything I have been through in the last six months do you really think I am ready to bet my bottom dollar on such a risky scheme?

Note: As you might expect, this idiom is based on the literal meaning of bottom dollar (as in bottom of the barrel, above).

For more information on – and practice with – Business Idioms be sure to take a look at our other blog posts.


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