Cream Rises to the Top and Coffe with cream

Cream Rises to the Top [Definition + Examples]

Hello dear learners. Happy to see you in my page again! Today I’m here to teach you another amusing and at the same time very common idiom that you can use to make your speaking sound more natural and native-like.

Have you ever heard the idiom “cream rises to the top”? Sounds amazing, huh? Let’s learn this together. First of all, let’s learn its figurative meaning.

“Learn about “Cream Rises to the Top” concept for success with real-life examples in this video.”

Cream Rises to the Top [figurative meaning + Examples]

Cream rises to the top (idiom)

Meaning: A good person or idea cannot go unnoticed for long, just as cream poured in coffee or tea eventually rises to the top.
Example 1


“It’s going to be tricky finding the right candidate for the promotion among so many employees.”


“We’ll find the right person. The cream rises to the top.”

Example 2


“I just get nervous that I won’t make anything of myself after high school.”


“Sarah, you’re a straight-A student, and you always put your all into your work. Trust me, you’ll be fine—the cream always rises to the top.”

The origin of “cream rises to the top” idiom

sun behind the clouds.

Now let’s learn about the origin of this idiom. The origin of this idiom goes back to another idiom “cream of the crop”.

The English idiom “cream of the crop” means the best of the best. When used about human beings, this phrase refers to a person who is at the top of his or her profession, class, or art.

Its literal meaning refers to the best produce of the harvest, and this meaning is still sometimes used. However, the figurative use of the phrase is much more common in modern language.

The origins of the idiom are at least five centuries old. The idiom “cream of the crop” was first used in the 16th century, but using the word cream to figuratively refer to the best is likely even older.

Cream is usually seen as the most desired part of the milk. It is the sweetest part and rises to the top of the milk. From this meaning of cream, this phrase entered common language and was used to describe the best of the harvest.

Then it quickly took the figurative meaning and was used to describe the best in any category.

The idiom “cream of the crop” entered the language when many people were active in the field of agriculture.

When this idiom first entered the language, most people used to keep a cow to provide milk for themselves, so many people knew the process by which cream, the richest part of the milk, rose to the top and was gathered to eat as a delicious food or to make butter.

Most people were also involved in growing produce to some extent. The gathering of the best produce from a year’s harvest was an event that people looked forward to all the year.

Therefore, everyone recognized exactly what the cream of the crop was and what was the meaning of the phrase when it was used figuratively.

Actually, when you leave milk to sit for a while, the cream rises to the top. The cream is thought to be the most delicious part of milk. This meaning was then transformed to describe things and people figuratively.

Since the 16th century, the term “cream” has been used to refer to “the best.”. The French expression “la crème de la crème” which means “the cream of the cream” has become common in English since 1800.

For the first time, John Paul Warren used the word “cream” to refer to “the best” in the sentence “Cream always rises to the top…so do good leaders”. And nowadays it is used very commonly to say that the best people will finally be seen or noticed.

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20 points about using Cream Rises to the Top

  1. “Cream rises to the top” is a popular saying that means the best or most skilled individuals or things will eventually be recognized or succeed.
  2. It implies that excellence will stand out and be acknowledged over time.
  3. This phrase is often used in contexts related to competition, success, and achievement.
  4. It can serve as a reminder to focus on self-improvement and perseverance as a way to achieve success.
  5. The concept behind the saying encourages individuals to strive for excellence and stand out in their field.
  6. It suggests that hard work, talent, and dedication will eventually lead to recognition and success.
  7. By believing in this concept, one can maintain a positive and optimistic outlook on their efforts and progress.
  8. The saying can be applied to various aspects of life, such as career advancement, personal growth, or even relationships.
  9. It can also be interpreted as a motivation to keep pushing forward despite challenges or setbacks.
  10. The saying implies that quality will always be recognized and appreciated in the long run.
  11. It can inspire individuals to keep honing their skills and talents to reach their full potential.
  12. The concept can apply to both individuals and groups striving for success in their respective fields.
  13. It reinforces the idea that patience and persistence are key to achieving long-term success.
  14. The saying can also serve as a reminder not to settle for mediocrity but to aim for excellence.
  15. It suggests that those who consistently demonstrate exceptional qualities will eventually rise above the rest.
  16. The saying implies that success is not instantaneous but rather a result of continuous effort and improvement.
  17. Those who embody the qualities of the saying often become leaders or role models in their respective fields.
  18. It encourages individuals to focus on their strengths and unique abilities to set themselves apart from others.
  19. The saying can instill confidence in individuals that their hard work and dedication will eventually pay off.
  20. Ultimately, “cream rises to the top” serves as a motivational concept to strive for the best version of oneself and achieve success in the long run.

Sample sentences

In the following, I have provided you with some examples of the use of this idiom in media. The names of the media are mentioned as well.

Today sees the Beta launch of Chartburst, a simple take on solving the discovery problem which employs the crowd to help the cream rise to the top and put it in front of the ears of major record label scouts.

Other times, he said, “you want to see the cream rise to the top,” adding, “You put it out there, put the ball on the ground and say, ‘Let’s have at it.’ ” As of Wednesday, the Jets had not tackled in practice.
The New York Times – Sports

“The players write down names and the cream rises to the top”.

The New York Times – Sports

“Eventually, the cream rises to the top.

The New York Times – Sports

“That’s when the cream rises to the top”.

The New York Times

The cream rose to the top at Royal Lytham today with six major champions at the top of the leaderboard at the Open Championship, including former world number one Tiger Woods.

“You know cream rises to the top,” Mr. Cuomo said.

The New York Times

More quotes including “cream rises to the top” idiom

quotes “cream rises to the top”

Here, I have provided some quotes by famous people that include the idiom “cream rises to the top” so that you can learn its usage better.

1.“In the long run the cream always rises and the crap always sinks.”-John Elway


2.“Both cream and scum can rise to the top, unfortunately. This lower-quality stuff that’s going higher isn’t doing it on fundamentals.”-John Manley


3.“I was brought up imagining that cream rises to the top, merit wins out, the race is to the swift and riches to men of understanding, but it ain’t necessarily so. The swift stand a better chance if they are also beautiful.”-Garrison Keillor


4.“The cream rises to the top, but only if people know it is cream”-Ben Altman


5.“Never mind the cream; it will always rise to the top. It’s the skim milk that needs good teachers.”-Bel Kaufman


6.“The cream does not always rise to the top! There is a serious misconception and mistake in this idea of thinking.”-Loren Weisman


7.“Power rises to the top like cream and dominates the weak with cruelty disguised as and often believed to be benevolence.”-Michael J. Sullivan


8.“The cream rises to the top, those five guys are the top five. No surprises there.”-Nick Watney


9.“When there is competition, the cream rises to the top. Pennsylvania is tired of the same old sour milk.”-Russ Diamond


10.“Only cream and SOBs rise to the top.”-Al Neuharth


11.“A lot of people always knock me not being able to pull my team together and lead my team to big wins. I kind of take offense to that. Cream always rises to the top.”-Anthony Johnson


12.“Do your job brilliantly and the cream will rise to the top.”-Irene Rosenfield


13.“The old folks used to say that cream rises to the top. It does, although sometimes it is slower than you would like. but excellence in managing will be recognized.”-Kepner

Concluding note

Dear learners, in today’s lesson I covered up everything you need to know about the amazing idiom “cream rises to the top”. I talked about its meaning and origin. I also provided sample sentences including this idiom so that you learn its usage better. I hope you enjoyed this lesson. Visit my page for more interesting English lessons.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What does the phrase “cream rises to the top” mean?

This phrase means that excellence or the best will eventually be recognized or succeed.


  • Can you provide an example of how “cream rises to the top” applies in a professional setting?

In a competitive job market, individuals with exceptional skills and work ethic are more likely to advance in their careers and be recognized for their contributions.


  • How does the concept of “cream rises to the top” relate to the arts and entertainment industry?

Talented artists, musicians, or actors who consistently produce high-quality work are more likely to gain recognition and stand out in the industry.


  • How can individuals apply the idea of “cream rises to the top” in their personal lives?

By focusing on self-improvement, setting high standards, and consistently delivering excellence in their actions, individuals can attract success and recognition in various aspects of their lives.

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Hi there, welcome to my website! I’m Omid and now you are reading the text of a passionate teacher. I’ve been teaching the English language for about 12 years while applying different updated methods of teaching. It’s my absolute pleasure that you are visiting my website. Here we go with the hope of improving your English language capabilities using various methods. Let’s learn English together here.

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