- (idiomatic) Really, basically, fundamentally.
1705, Daniel Defoe, The Consolidator: or, Memoirs of Sundry Transactions From the World in the Moon:
- They concerted Matters, and all at once fell to selling off their Stock, giving out daily Reports that they would be no longer concern'd, that it was a losing Trade, that the Fund at bottom was good for nothing.
1883, Robert Louis Stevenson, chapter 16, in Treasure Island:
- I know you are a good man at bottom.
- 1907 July 5, Mark Twain, Chapters from My Autobiography, ch. 23:
- At bottom I supposed that he had mistaken another book for mine.
- 1947 Jan. 6, "The 80th Congress," Time (retrieved 26 June 2015):
- As the New Year opened, the survival of Western democracy rested, at bottom, on the case the U.S. would make for it.
- 2015 June 20, Michael Lewis, "Harvard Admissions Needs ‘Moneyball for Life’," New York Times (retrieved 26 June 2015):
- At bottom, he does not accept any authority higher than himself.