Cream will rise to the top


Senior Member
Hi all

Please explain to me the meaning of the sentence in the title of this. It's from Love letters by Katie Fforde. The context is a teacher is talking to the students in a writing course.

"Isn't it a good thing to hear the very worst-case scenario? We know that there's a lot of talent in this room, and while I don't think any of you are best friends with the head of a major publishing house, we have seen the immense amount of work and dedication you're capable of, and I know that talent and perseverance are the most important things. Cream will rise to the top. Just you lot go and be cream!"

  • SwissPete

    Senior Member
    Français (CH), AE (California)
    Here is an explanation:
    In the figurative sense, cream is considered the more expensive, more valuable, and therefore better of the two diary products. So it is used as an expression meaning someone or something better than the rest. So "Cream", or the better person or thing, shall always eventually end up rising to the top and being acknowledged as such.


    Senior Member
    English-British and U.S.
    Usually people who are on the top are the best of the best so since cream will rise to the top, the students will be cream and they (the very talented) will rise to the top.


    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    A side note on the meaning explained above:

    This figurative saying refers to the fact that when you let milk that has not been homogenized or otherwise treated sit for a while, the cream will separate from the rest of the milk and form a layer at the top. It rises to the top naturally.

    Cream is the richest and so the 'best' part of the milk. According to the saying, it is similarly natural for the best and most talented students to rise to the top ~ for their talent to become visible.
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