separate the sheep from the goats

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separate the sheep from the goats

  (British, American & Australian) also sort (out) the sheep from the goats (British & Australian)
to choose the people or things of high quality from a group of mixed quality I'll look through the application forms and separate the sheep from the goats.
See also: goat, separate, sheep

separate the sheep from the goats

Distinguish between good and bad individuals, or superior and inferior ones. For example, In a civil war where both sides commit atrocities, you can't separate the sheep from the goats . This term refers to Jesus's prophecy in the New Testament (Matthew 25:32) that the sheep (that is, the compassionate) will sit on God's right hand (and find salvation), and the goats (the hard-hearted) will sit on the left (and be sent to damnation).
See also: goat, separate, sheep
References in periodicals archive ?
It's actually hard to sort the sheep from the goats up here on Paradis-sur-Tweed: even back in 1513 the Border reivers looted both armies' baggage trains at battle's end, so it was no surprise to see as many English faces as Scots at last week's fund-raising hootenanny in Branxton.