early 14c., creyme, from Old French cresme (13c., Modern French crème) "chrism, holy oil," blend of Late Latin chrisma "ointment" (from Greek khrisma "unguent;" see chrism) and Late Latin cramum "cream," which is perhaps from Gaulish. Replaced Old English ream. Re-borrowed 19c. from French as creme. Figurative sense of "most excellent element or part" is from 1580s. Cream-cheese is from 1580s.