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20 Idioms for Great That Show True Excellence

20 Idioms for Great That Show True Excellence

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Language is full of colorful idioms that bring conversations to life, especially when praising excellence.

This article explores idioms that signify greatness, making your compliments more vivid and engaging.

Each idiom is explained with examples and relevant etymology, showing you how to articulate top-notch quality in various contexts.

Whether it’s a stellar performance or a five-star service, these expressions will help you convey admiration with flair.

1. Top-notch

“Top-notch” means of the highest quality or excellence. It is used to describe people, products, services, or anything that stands out for its superior quality. This idiom is versatile and can be applied to both formal and informal contexts to commend exceptional quality or performance.


  1. “The restaurant we went to last night was top-notch; the food and service were both outstanding.”
  2. “She’s a top-notch programmer, always delivering high-quality code on time.”

2. First-rate

“First-rate” describes something that is of the highest quality or exceptionally good. The term originates from the rating system used for ships in the British Royal Navy, where “first-rate” indicated the most powerful and heavily armed ships.


  1. “The performance by the orchestra was first-rate, captivating the audience from start to finish.”
  2. “He is a first-rate lawyer, known for his expertise and success in the courtroom.”

3. Cream of the crop

“Cream of the crop” refers to the best part of a group or the best among similar things or people. This idiom originates from the practice of skimming the cream, the richest part of milk, indicating the best quality.


  1. “The students who were selected for the scholarship are truly the cream of the crop.”
  2. “This year’s harvest produced the cream of the crop in terms of quality and flavor.”

4. Best of the best

“Best of the best” describes something or someone that is considered the very best among all. It emphasizes ultimate excellence and superiority and can be used in both formal and informal contexts.


  1. “The athletes competing in this tournament are the best of the best.”
  2. “Her designs are always the best of the best in the fashion industry.”

5. A cut above

“A cut above” means superior to or better than others of the same kind. It signifies a notable level of excellence that sets someone or something apart from the rest.


  1. “The new software update is a cut above the previous versions, offering enhanced features.”
  2. “His work ethic and dedication make him a cut above his colleagues.”

6. Second to none

“Second to none” means the very best, with no one or nothing being better. It emphasizes unmatched quality or excellence and can be used in various contexts, including people, services, and products.


  1. “The customer service at this hotel is second to none.”
  2. “Her skill in negotiation is second to none in the industry.”

7. The bee’s knees

“The bee’s knees” is a playful idiom that means excellent or of high quality. It became popular in the 1920s during the flapper era in the United States and is often used in a lighthearted or whimsical manner to praise someone or something.


  1. “This new gadget is the bee’s knees; I can’t believe how useful it is.”
  2. “She’s the bee’s knees when it comes to organizing events.”

8. The cat’s pajamas

“The cat’s pajamas” means something or someone is excellent or outstanding. Similar to “the bee’s knees,” it originated in the 1920s and is often used in a playful or affectionate manner.


  1. “That vintage car is the cat’s pajamas; it’s in perfect condition.”
  2. “He thinks he’s the cat’s pajamas after winning the contest.”

9. Out of this world

“Out of this world” means exceptionally good or impressive. It suggests that something is so excellent that it seems otherworldly or extraordinary.


  1. “The chocolate cake she made was out of this world.”
  2. “The views from the mountaintop were out of this world.”

10. In a class of its own

“In a class of its own” means something or someone is so superior that it cannot be compared to anything else. It highlights unparalleled excellence.


  1. “Her latest novel is in a class of its own; there’s nothing like it.”
  2. “The service at this resort is in a class of its own.”

11. Head and shoulders above

“Head and shoulders above” means significantly better than others. It emphasizes a clear and noticeable superiority.


  1. “The new smartphone is head and shoulders above its competitors.”
  2. “She stands head and shoulders above her peers in terms of leadership skills.”

12. A1

“A1” denotes top quality or excellence. This term originated from the classification system used by Lloyd’s of London for insuring ships. An “A1” rating indicated the highest quality.


  1. “The service we received was absolutely A1.”
  2. “Her performance in the exam was A1, scoring top marks.”

13. World-class

“World-class” refers to someone or something that is among the best in the world. It signifies outstanding quality and excellence on a global scale.


  1. “The facilities at the sports center are world-class.”
  2. “He is a world-class musician, renowned globally for his talent.”

14. Top of the line

“Top of the line” describes something of the highest quality in its category. It is used to highlight the best product or service available.


  1. “This model is top of the line, featuring the latest technology.”
  2. “They stayed at a top-of-the-line hotel with all the luxurious amenities.”

15. Above and beyond

“Above and beyond” means exceeding expectations or going beyond what is required. It highlights exceptional effort or quality.


  1. “Her dedication to the project was above and beyond what we expected.”
  2. “The customer service at this store goes above and beyond.”

16. Five-star

“Five-star” indicates top quality or excellence, often used to describe hotels, restaurants, and services that are rated with the highest standard.


  1. “We had a five-star experience at the resort; everything was perfect.”
  2. “The five-star reviews reflect the outstanding quality of this product.”

17. The gold standard

“The gold standard” refers to the best quality or most reliable example of something. It signifies the highest benchmark against which other things are measured. The term originally comes from the monetary system where a country’s currency or paper money had a value directly linked to gold.


  1. “Her research on climate change is considered the gold standard in the field.”
  2. “This company’s customer service is the gold standard; no other company comes close.”

18. Prime

“Prime” means of the best possible quality; excellent. It is often used to describe meat (e.g., prime beef) but can also be applied to other high-quality items or conditions.


  1. “This is a prime example of modern architecture.”
  2. “The athlete is in prime condition, ready for the competition.”

19. Superb

“Superb” means excellent or outstanding in quality. It is used to describe something that is of very high standard or exceptional.


  1. “The concert was superb; the musicians played flawlessly.”
  2. “Her superb acting earned her numerous awards.”

20. Stellar

“Stellar” means exceptionally good or outstanding. It originally refers to stars but is now used metaphorically to indicate something of star-like quality.


  1. “He gave a stellar performance that received a standing ovation.”
  2. “The company has a stellar reputation for customer satisfaction.”

These idioms provide a variety of ways to express the idea of excellence or superiority in different contexts.