world class, a.k.a. international hullaballoo
I know world class is just a phrase, but it’s one that sets my teeth on edge. ... Language is enriched when it incorporates slang, neologisms, immigrant inventions and street talk that say things that were never needed to be said before, or that we were never willing or able to say to each other. Language is corrupted when it is made bland, vague, superficial, flabby or meaningless. World class is a term that I believe leaked over from the sports world. In ranking how fast the fastest sprinters can cover 100 meters, it has objectivity and meaning. Slopped over to a realm such as the arts, it only pretends to some kind of verifiable truth. So while it feigns being about the best of the best, it really means, “talked about and caught up in the international hullaballoo that we all hear so much media talk about,” with a dash of “appreciated by we who are at top of the heap.”
SFMOMA's Renny Pritikin pens a word class blog post on museum building booms and digresses on the use of the phrase "world class."