go a notch or two below the top

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Wookie

Senior Member
Korea, Korean
The critics often deviate from popular opinion, especially when you go a notch or two below the top. That’s why professional critics are important(source)

What does the phrase underlined mean?
 
  • Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    It's in reference to the phrase "top notch" which means of the highest order or quality. The critics referred to are not top notch, but a little lower down in status: a few notches below the top one.

    The metaphor of "notches" to mean rank is very old (from the middle ages, I think). I'm not sure if it is clear what the literal notches were originally. The phrase to "take down a peg or two" is similar.
     

    Wookie

    Senior Member
    Korea, Korean
    It's in reference to the phrase "top notch" which means of the highest order or quality. The critics referred to are not top notch, but a little lower down in status: a few notches below the top one.

    The metaphor of "notches" to mean rank is very old (from the middle ages, I think). I'm not sure if it is clear what the literal notches were originally. The phrase to "take down a peg or two" is similar.
    Then what does the example mean?
    I'm not sure what the exact meaning of it is.
     

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    "When you go..." is an informal way of saying something like "when you consider..." or "when you look at", but really you can omit this without losing the meaning. I.e. "The critics often deviate from popular opinion, especially [when you consider] critics that rank somewhat below those of the highest standard".
     
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