What is origin & meaning of the phrase "he has bottom" or "he lacks bottom"? This is a phrase used in UK politics a great deal.


2 Answers 2


Daily Mail

Some claim that he has no heart; others that he lacks ‘bottom’ (that old-fashioned but potent word for depth, roots, grounding, principle).

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    The posh word is 'gravitas'. Nov 10, 2013 at 18:46
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    I think it may refer to ships, to a ship being lightly freighted and having insufficient bottom (or ballast) to handle well. Jan 29, 2015 at 20:08

I would say it implies -it isn't a precise term- a calmness under fire, a certain presence, consistency and determination. Willie Whitelaw would be my perfect exemplar.

Bill Jones (former professor politics and history)


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