blue ribbon

(redirected from blue-ribbon)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Legal, Encyclopedia.

blue ribbon

1. noun A prize for first place. In contests, the person or thing that wins first place is often awarded a blue ribbon. Congratulations on winning the blue ribbon! It was certainly well-deserved—I never knew pecan pie could taste so good!
2. adjective By extension, excellent or the best of a particular group or category. Often hyphenated. Wow, Sharon, this is a blue-ribbon pie—I never knew pecan pie could taste so good!
See also: blue, ribbon

blue ribbon

Of outstanding excellence; also, first prize. The term comes from the wide blue ribbon that is the badge of honor of the Garter, the highest order of British knighthood. It was founded by King Edward III about 1350 and reestablished in the nineteenth century. The choice of a blue garter allegedly dated from a court ball where a lady lost her blue garter. The king picked it up and, seeing knowing smirks among the guests, bound it around his own leg and said, “Honi soit qui mal y pense” (“Shame on him who thinks evil”). The saying became the motto of the Order of the Garter. The award was originally limited to members of the royal family and 25 other knights, but in the 1900s it was granted to a few commoners, among them Sir Winston Churchill (in 1953). In the mid-1800s the term began to be transferred to any outstanding accomplishment and today it is applied to excellent schools (Blue Ribbon Schools Program), as a name for restaurants and menu items (blue-ribbon special), and as the first prize in athletic competitions.
See also: blue, ribbon