Bottom Line – Idiom, Origin & Meaning

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

When you understand the meaning and proper usage of common idioms like “bottom line,” it enhances your writing skills and adds so much depth to your vocabulary. But the keyword here is understanding. So, I’ll explain what “bottom line” means and where it came from and show you how to work it into a sentence.

What Does Bottom Line Mean?

Bottom Line Idiom Origin Meaning

“The bottom line” is an idiom with two basic meanings:

  1. In the world of business or finance, the “bottom line” is the net income or profit that a company makes. This is usually the final figure on a statement that shows the profits or losses the company previously made. We call it the “bottom line” because it’s usually found at the bottom of financial statements.
  2. In a broader sense, the term “bottom line” can be used to describe the most important aspect of something, whether that’s the expectations or the final outcome.

Is It Bottom Line or Bottom Line?

If you want to be formally correct, then the term is “bottom line,” written as two separate words.

Bottom Line or Bottom-Line With a Hyphen?

Actually, both! “Bottom line” is supposed to be written without a hyphen when you use it as a noun. But when we use the term as an adjective that comes before a noun, it should be hyphenated as “bottom-line,” but never used by itself. Here, I’ll show you.

  • Adjective: The company’s bottom-line performance.
  • Noun: The company’s bottom line.

Origin of the Phrase Bottom Line

The phrase “bottom line” first came from the world of finance and accounting, where it was used to note the income or profits of a company. It’s been used that way since at least the 1800s.

“Focus on the Bottom Line” Meaning

If someone tells you to “focus on the bottom line,” it means they need you to prioritize the most important aspect or final outcome of whatever situation is at hand. In business, your boss might give you a project to take care of and say, “Focus on the bottom line here,” which would probably be something like gaining profits or maybe even the company motto. Basically, he’s saying, “Take care of this through whatever means possible but never forget the goal.”

Synonyms for Bottom Line

  • Main point
  • Essence
  • Core
  • Most important fact
  • Crux
  • Heart of the matter
  • Key issue
  • In the end
  • At the end of the day

Using Bottom Line in a Sentence

Bottom Line Idiom Origin Meaning 1
  • Look, guys, the bottom line is that we need to reduce our expenses if we want to stay profitable and operating.
  • The interior designer’s argument had so many good points, but the bottom line was that the renovation would increase our home’s value by 75%.
  • Our manager urged the whole team to focus on the bottom line and increase sales for this quarter.
  • He may have had his reasons, but the bottom line is that he cheated, and I simply can’t forgive him for that.
  • In the end, the bottom line was that we couldn’t come to an agreement on the terms of the contract, so we’ll be taking him to court.
  • The new tech company’s bottom-line performance exceeded expectations, leading to a rise in stock prices.

The Bottom Line

I almost forgot! I often use “the bottom line” as an outro for a lot of my helpful guides because it shows that a) this is the end of the article, but also b) after everything I wrote, here is the takeaway. But now that you understand what “bottom line” means, you can play around and see where you can use it!