Is there any opposite of "Ground up" phrase? Something like "Top-down : Bottom-up"

  • 1
    The literal opposite would be sky down, but that's not an idiom as far as I know. Top down would be the likeliest candidate Jun 24 '13 at 18:56
  • What's the context? Jun 24 '13 at 19:37
  • @batpigandme "I built it from the ground up"
    – user793468
    Jun 24 '13 at 20:12

"Top down" would be the opposite. For example, you could build something from the ground up or from the top down. Conversely, from the bottom up would have the same meaning as from the ground up.


The phrase from the ground up generally means completely or starting from scratch, as in this definition.

While top down seems like a linguistic opposite, the meaning is not quite right. It may refer to an analytic method or an organizational or decision making structure.

When a task is not approached from the ground up, it is being done incrementally, or perhaps superficially. If you wish to convey that the actor is not paying attention to basics or fundamentals, you could say his head is in the clouds or he is living in an ivory tower.


I agree partly with bib that we're looking for an opposite to starting from scratch rather than a literally physically opposite metaphor.

Another way to consider this opposite is to think of someone participating after completion, so maybe after the fact would work?

Or, if you're taking the not from the start approach, think incremental change of something substantial, such as standing on the shoulders of ... or organic improvement?

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