First example: Most people in the crowd bet that Diego would lose the championship match because this was the first time for him to play in the city ping-pong tournament. However, Diego had practiced for weeks with his family and friends. After a long and difficult match, he came out on top and got the first-place trophy. The crowd was shocked that Diego was able to defeat the champion from the previous year.
Meaning: “To come out on top” generally means to win a contest or fight. In this case, not many people expected Diego to win. He had never played in the tournament before. But Diego did play a lot with his family and friends to prepare for the match. Even though it was hard, Diego finally won the match and receive the trophy for first place. He came out on top over the previous champion.
Here is another example:
Second example: Several actresses were in competition for the Best Actress Oscar for 2011. All of them had excellent performances in movies that year. But only one of them could come out on top. When the winner was announced, everyone found out who it was: Natalie Portman. Now people are eagerly waiting to hear who the Oscar will go to this year.
Meaning: In this situation, Natalie Portman was one of several actresses who were nominated to win the Best Actress Oscar in 2011. Though five actresses are usually nominated each year, only one can win the award. In 2011, Natalie Portman came out on top, and got the award.
This idiom is from LSI’s book “Reading Transitions,” which is used in the level 4 Reading classes. For more information, please visit https://www.languagesystems.com