Crème De La Crème—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.

What does crème de la crème mean? Well, despite what it sounds like, I assure you it’s neither a fancy French dessert nor a luxurious body butter. Instead, it’s actually an expression used to describe the very best of the best, the cream of the crop. But, as with most French loanwords, there’s confusion around how to use it, how to spell it, and how to pronounce it. So, I’ll touch on all those details right here!

La Crème de la Crème Meaning

Creme De La Creme Origin Meaning

The noun crème de la crème is a French phrase translated as “cream of the cream,” meaning the best of the best or the superior part of something.

It’s supposed to represent the pinnacle, the most distinguished, the top-notch or the utmost example in a particular category. This could be the best player of all the teams in a sport or the best TV show in its entire genre.

So, if someone calls you the crème de la crème, give yourself a pat on the back. You’ve made it to the top!

Origin and Etymology of Crème de la Crème

This phrase has its roots in French cookery. The cream, being the richest and most delicious part of the milk, was often used to create the most exquisite recipes, and we all know how delectable French cuisine is.

Over several decades, this culinary term made its way into the broader French vernacular to denote anything or anyone of superior quality or status. The phrase was then borrowed into English in the 19th century, where it’s been used to describe the “upper crust” of society or the highest quality of anything.

What Is the Plural of Crème de la Crème?

The term crème de la crème is both singular and plural. Just like the word “sheep” in English, you can use crème de la crème to refer to one elite item or person or a group of them. So, whether you’re talking about one top-tier student or an entire class of valedictorians, crème de la crème is all you need to say!

Crème de la Crème Pronunciation

In English, crème de la crème is pronounced as krem duh la krem. If you can, be sure to emphasize the French accent to give it that extra touch of sophistication. My husband is French and always points out when I mispronounce French terms.

What Is a Synonym for Crème de la Crème?

For those times when crème de la crème feels a little too fancy, here are some synonyms you can use.

  • The best of the best
  • Top tier
  • The elite
  • Upper crust
  • The pick of the litter
  • The cream of the crop
  • A pinnacle
  • Perfection
  • Peak

Using Crème de la Crème in a Sentence

Creme De La Creme Origin Meaning 1

Now that you’re a crème de la crème expert, let’s look at a few ways you can use it.

  • The ivy league university only accepts the crème de la crème of high school graduates.
  • My cousin’s gourmet cupcakes are the crème de la crème of the Canadian bakery world.
  • Derek Sheppard is not just a good surgeon, he’s the crème de la crème of neurosurgeons.
  • Sarah J. Maas writes the crème de la crème of Fantasy Romance.

Nothing But the Best!

I hope my guide was the crème de la crème of explanations on how to use this common French phrase. Loanwords can be tricky, especially with different punctuation and pronunciation. But with these tips, you’re sure to get it right!

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