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I've always wondered whether to use cream or creme. I know, both are used, but when and how? From my understanding, I think of creme as a dessert.

She pressed down on the lever to shoot out a mound of whipped creme.

Though, I don't know about the cream. Multiple times, I've had people come up to me and say, "It's c-r-e-a-m, not c-r-e-m-e, when I'm talking about whipped creme. Then again, I'm 12.

The point is, does creme have multiple uses? So far, I only think of the dessert as that.

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    creme is the Anglicized French spelling. cream is the English spelling. It depends on the audience and the effect you’re going for. – Jim Nov 29 '16 at 20:33
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    If you want to be really Frenchy, you use the spelling crème (example: Squirrel Brand Crème Caramel Pecans) Note: in French, this is pronounced as "kghem", not "kreem". – herisson Nov 29 '16 at 20:38
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    In the US there's a legal distinction. "Cream", with a few exceptions, can only be used if the thing being described contains dairy cream. "Creme" is used for other cases. The two are pronounced the same (though the accented "crème" is generally pronounced Frency-style). – Hot Licks Nov 29 '16 at 20:58
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    I agree with @Hot Licks—if you use genuine heavy cream and whip it up, that's whipped cream; if you call it whipped creme I would assume it was some sort of non-dairy or semi-dairy substitute. I think this might actually be why you have a sense that desserts get the creme spelling: things like that yummy Oreo frosting are called "creme filling" specifically because they're not made with actual cream, even though they have a "creamy" consistency. (There's also crème fraîche, which is a whole other thing. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cr%C3%A8me_fra%C3%AEche) – 1006a Nov 29 '16 at 21:40
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    @1006a And if it's too artificial to even be labelled creme, it's kreme. And probably krispy, too. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jan 30 '17 at 9:07
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The first two definitions of "creme" on Merriam-Webster are:

1 : a sweet liqueur

2 : cream or a preparation made with or resembling cream used in cooking

The word comes from French crème, which means...cream! Cream, in English, is a word that means "that dairy product that comes from the fatty stuff from milk." Cream is used in common foods like whipped cream and sour cream. Creme, on the other hand, does not refer to what we in English call cream. It is used in English only in many culinary terms--which come from French--such as crème brûlée, and in expressions like "crème de la crème."

So the people telling you that it's whipped cream, not whipped creme, were correct.

  • In British English "creme" would be pronounced differently (as crème with a short vowel) from "cream". – Francis Davey Mar 31 '17 at 7:27
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Cream is much better than creme. I think creme originated for advertising. It makes me think of creme rinse (hair conditioner).

If you want to use a French term, then you may use crème. For example, this site is the crème de la crème of Q&A sites.

Edit:

Sorry, I forgot to say that if it's whipped, it's definitely cream.

  • I'd disagree, cr*(è/e)*me makes me think if crème brûlée and fancy French food (with lots of diacritics of course) while cream makes me think of a stodgier British cream. So, at least to me and perhaps to other Brits, crème is much better than cream. – BladorthinTheGrey Nov 30 '16 at 6:57
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    @BladorthinTheGrey Let's hear it for Cornish clotted cream. – Peter Point Nov 30 '16 at 13:08
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    @BladorthinTheGrey - I'm sorry I wasn't clear. I was trying to say that cream is better than creme. I didn't mean to say it was better than crème. Crème is definitely the crème de la crème. – aparente001 Nov 30 '16 at 16:11
  • Well, in that case, I'd just about agree with you, in Britain, you tend not to find too many cremes but those that you do wouldn't be as nice as the crèmes or probably the creams – BladorthinTheGrey Nov 30 '16 at 16:52
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    @WS2 - I think when I say fancy it's similar to you saying posh. Btw, even in UK English I believe there are many non-sex-related uses of fancy, e.g. Do you fancy a cup of tea? // Personally I would recommend just eliminating creme (sans accent) from one's vocabulary. Nowadays, you don't even have to say creme rinse -- you can say conditioner. – aparente001 Dec 1 '16 at 1:31
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Cream has has a specific medical meaning, relating to a topical dosage form of a drug:

An emulsion, semisolid dosage form, usually containing >20% water and volatiles and/or <50% hydrocarbons, waxes, or polyols as the vehicle. This dosage form is generally for external application to the skin or mucous membranes.

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