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Is there something higher (better) than the word premium, or does it mean the best? Also, is there something in between premium and deluxe?

Graphically: Does any word fit here? > Premium > Does any word fit here? > Deluxe

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Premium, particularly today, often particularly means the paid product. Thus there will be a free offering, and then a premium (ie, paid) offering. Above that you may get "corporate" membership or "stakeholder" or whatever. As everyone pointed out, it's all just marketing BS. But be aware that these days (particularly online) "premium" often means "the paid service." –  Joe Blow Jul 6 '11 at 14:22
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@Joe Blow: I think you're pigeon-holing the point there to a very specific medium (as you clarify, to an extent at the end there.) Premium Gold Top milk is my preference, but they certainly don't give away the standard milk; for all the cows may well be inferior... –  Grant Thomas Jul 6 '11 at 15:20
    
@Disa you're right, that idea is mainly for services/internet type products. –  Joe Blow Jul 6 '11 at 16:12
    
I typically replace the word "premium" with "bull$#!*". It's so overused, that they mean about the same thing now. –  zzzzBov Jul 6 '11 at 16:13

7 Answers 7

up vote 15 down vote accepted

Neither "premium" nor "deluxe" has a precise meaning (unsurprising, since they are both words in advertiserese, where precise meanings are undesirable because somebody might try and hold you to them), so there is no answer either to what order they come in, or to what you can put between them.

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+1 for making the obvious point that once a word has been colonised by the advertising community it rapidly loses any precise meaning, being reduced to simply an evocation of primitive responses such as desirable and to be avoided. –  FumbleFingers Jul 6 '11 at 15:24
    
@FumbleFingers: Well put. I applaud you, sir. –  Mike Christian Jul 6 '11 at 20:25
    
...apropos which, about 20-30 years ago in the UK there was a period when all new cars came on the market with various trim levels and fancy names to go with the prices as they increased across the board. At that time "premium" was the cheapest. The manufacturers at the time obviously didn't want to market anything as "basic", "standard", or "bottom of the range". –  FumbleFingers Jul 6 '11 at 23:15
    
@FumbleFingers - Yeah. Here in the US (perhaps in the UK too) the smallest size eggs you can buy are labeled "Large" and the lowest quality "Grade A". :-) –  T.E.D. Jul 7 '11 at 12:32
    
@T.E.D.: You can buy medium eggs at any of the supermarkets in my area of the U.S. –  John Y Jul 15 '11 at 3:34

Premium does not mean the best. It simply means better.

Definition 10: of exceptional quality or greater value than others of its kind; superior: a wine made of premium grapes.

Deluxe, in this context, means "High or highest in quality", according to the dictionary, though it is held in more esteem than premium.

If you want to say the best, in most cases you can just say the best.

However, here is a list of synonyms, for if you ever want to wax eloquent:

beyond compare, capital, champion, chief, choicest, culminating, finest, first, first-class, first-rate, foremost, incomparable, inimitable, leading, matchless, nonpareil, optimum, out-of-sight, outstanding, paramount, peerless, perfect, preeminent, premium, prime, primo, principal, sans pareil, second to none, super, superlative, supreme, terrific, transcendent, ultimate, unequaled, unparalleled, unrivaled, unsurpassed

In between premium and deluxe? It would be hard to pin any word incontrovertibly between the two, especially since they are not generally used in the same contexts (ever seen deluxe grapes?) I came up with choice, superior, and exceptional.

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preeminent chicken sandwich! inimitable platter! –  Claudiu Jul 6 '11 at 14:36
    
Out-of-sight custard! Leading hot dogs! Perfect quiche! –  Daniel Jul 6 '11 at 14:38
    
Culminating tomatoes and chief olives on principal lettuce, with optimum dressing and a sprinkling of paramount cheese! –  Daniel Jul 6 '11 at 14:42

Colin is absolutely correct that "premium" doesn't really have a precise meaning. It is used in marketing to imply a somewhat better than baseline quality. There are loads of other such words, but which actually means a better product than which others is almost entirely up to the company's marketing department.

Some examples:

  • Executive
  • Platinum
  • Gold
  • Diamond

And of course "plus" added onto any of the above to knock it up another notch.

I think the only thing I've seen that definitively means "best" is "Ultimate". I wouldn't put it past a marketing guy to invent "Ultimate plus" though...

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Internationals have an "Albatros" membership. I can only think of Monty Python when I hear that youtube.com/watch?v=Z_u7VGiMO0U –  mplungjan Jul 6 '11 at 14:08
    
+1 for "ultimate." I believe that is the best answer to the query. –  The Raven Jul 6 '11 at 15:10

Some etymology to back up what the other answers are telling you:

Premium as an adjective only dates from 1928, I suspect by someone who thought it was related to "primary". As a noun it actually derives from the Latin praemium, a profit made from booty, which seems disturbingly fitting for an advertising weasel word.

Deluxe has a full century on premium, and literally means what you might expect: "of luxury."

Neither of these words have much of an ordering of strength, so you can take them as you will.

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This answer is more informative and more correct than @drm65's, and corroborates other good answers and comments. –  John Y Jul 6 '11 at 16:19
    
@John Y: it's a supplement rather than an answer, but it was a bit big for a comment. –  user1579 Jul 6 '11 at 16:20

If it's goods that you're talking about, top-grade implies that a product is the absolute best of a particular type of item.

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I can't think of an intermediate term, but I like acme for "the best". Then again, I'm not Wiley Coyote...

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Zenith technically means the point directly overhead but is used generally to mean the highest achievement of something.

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