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ex•cel•lence(ˈɛk sə ləns)
Al or A one Superior, excellent, first-rate. The term dates from the 1830s. Lloyd’s Register of British and Foreign Shipping used letters to indicate the condition of a ship’s hull, and numbers to designate the state of the cables, anchors, etc. The highest attainable rating was Al. In the United States the colloquial phrase A-number one is often heard.
bear away the bell See VICTORY.
bear the bell To be in the foremost position; to take the lead; to be the best. This expression refers to the bell worn on the neck of the bellwether, the leading sheep of a flock. It can be used quantitatively to mean the first in a series, or qualitatively to mean the best. Chaucer used it in the former sense:
And, let see which of you shall bear the bell
To speak of love aright? (Troilus and Criseyde, 1374)
The judgmental use of bear the bell is more current today.
blowed-in-the-glass First-rate, superior, high quality. This American hobo slang expression alludes to the fact that the better liquors often had the brand name blown into the glass of the bottle.
blue ribbon The highest order of excellence; preeminence in a given area; first prize. The term may come either from the blue ribbon worn by members of the Order of the Garter, the highest order of British knighthood, instituted in the mid-14th century; or from the blue ribbon (cordon bleu) worn by members of the Order of the Saint Esprit, the highest order of knighthood in France, instituted in the late 16th century. The French term cordon bleu remains in use primarily for chefs of distinction. The first figurative use of blue ribbon has been attributed to Disraeli, who termed the Derby “the Blue Ribbon of the Turf” (1848).
cat’s meow Someone or something excellent, first rate, remarkable; the acme. Introduced in the early 1900s, this was among the most popular fad expressions of the Roaring 20s. It is rarely used now. Cat’s pajamas, another popular phrase of the era, derives from the fact that pajamas had just been introduced and were still considered somewhat daring nighttime attire. The word cat is also used in expressions such as cat’s whiskers, cat’s cuff links, cat’s eyebrows, cat’s galoshes, cat’s roller skates, and cat’s tonsils.
In the 1920s, it was all the rage to combine an animal with an inappropriate body part or clothing item, e.g., ant’s pants, bee’s knees, clam’s garters, eel’s ankles, elephant’s instep, gnu’s shoes, leopard’s stripes, pig’s wings, sardine’s whiskers, and tiger’s spots.
Corker See EFFECTIVENESS.
enough to make a cat speak Said in reference to something extraordinarily good, usually superior drink. The point is that the liquor is so good it will loosen even a cat’s tongue. A variant of this expression appears in Shakespeare’s The Tempest (II, ii):
Here is that which will give language to you, cat; open your mouth.
hunky-dory In a fine state; in superb condition; Al or A-OK. This American expression, derived from the Dutch honk ‘goal, home,’ as in the children’s games of tag or hide and go seek, implies feelings of success, contentment, or satisfaction.
I thought everything was hunkydory and you were well on the way to being a big executive. (D. M. Dakin, Sullen Bell, 1956)
of the first water Perfect, consummate; pure, unblemished. The transparency, color, or luster of a diamond or pearl is its water. Diamonds are rated of the first, second, or third water. The phrase came to be applied to jewels in general, and subsequently to any person or object of outstanding quality. It is frequently used in negative contexts as an intensifier—pure as ‘unmitigated, out-and-out, thoroughgoing, complete.’
He was a … swindler of the first water. (Scott, Journal, 1826)
purple patches Passages in a literary work that are marked by ornate writing, especially as interlarded with an overuse of dramatic, exaggerated literary effects; inappropriately laden with rhetorical devices. In this expression, purple means ‘gorgeous.’
A few of the purple patches scattered through the book may serve as a sample of the rest. (Academy, April, 1881)
the real McCoy See GENUINENESS.
round as Giotto’s O Said of a task, project, or other matter that is completed quickly, effortlessly, and with a high degree of perfection. According to legend, Pope Boniface VIII sent a messenger to secure the services of the famous Italian artist Giotto (c. 1266-1337). Seeking proof of Giotto’s skill, the messenger asked for a sample of his work, whereupon the artist quickly drew a perfect circle on a sheet of paper. The pope was impressed, and the expression and its variants soon became almost proverbial in Italy and elsewhere.
I saw … that the practical teaching of the masters of Art was summed up by the O of Giotto. (John Ruskin, The Queen of the Air, 1869)
Rounder than the O of Giotto is sometimes said of a work that epitomizes perfection, one that is more perfect than perfect.
to a fare-thee-well Perfectly, to the utmost degree or fullest extent, to the maximum; also to a fare-you-well. This American expression, which dates from the latter part of the 19th century, comes from the parting phrase/ore you well, used to express good wishes to one about to leave on a journey. Perhaps the connection lies in the finality of departure.
top-drawer Of the highest rank; usually in reference to social class. Conjecture is that the term stems from keeping one’s most valuable possessions in the top drawer of a chest.
top-shelf Of superior quality, used especially in relation to social class or standing, as in top-shelfer.
The frontiersman calls them, as we have heard, “top-shelfers”; they are accompanied by their servants from England. (Baillie-Grohman, Camps in the Rockies, 1882)
Top-shelf items are out of easy reach, for use or wear only on rare occasions; extraordinary or fine as opposed to everyday. One theory holds that top-shelf derives from the saloon keepers’ practice of placing the most expensive, and consequently the least requested, brands of liquor on the higher shelves. The more frequently ordered house-brands were kept more readily accessible.
tough act to follow Said of a presentation, performance, project, or other matter that has been completed successfully and with a high degree of excellence, especially one that has received much acclaim. In variety shows, theatrical performances, concerts, etc., it has become customary to save the best act for last lest the audience become disappointed and leave before the entire show has been completed. Tough act to follow implies that the standards set by a previous performer will be difficult, if not impossible, to meet or exceed.
|Noun||1.||excellence - the quality of excelling; possessing good qualities in high degree|
quality - an essential and distinguishing attribute of something or someone; "the quality of mercy is not strained"--Shakespeare
impressiveness, magnificence, grandness, richness - splendid or imposing in size or appearance; "the grandness of the architecture"; "impressed by the richness of the flora"
|2.||excellence - an outstanding feature; something in which something or someone excels; "a center of manufacturing excellence"; "the use of herbs is one of the excellencies of French cuisine"|