At Cambridge the first class (generally of twelve) at the annual examination for a degree. There are three classes of honours, wranglers, senior optimes, and junior optimes. Wranglers are said to be born with golden spoons in their mouths, the senior optimes with silver, and the junior with leaden ones. The last junior optime is called the wooden spoon. Those who are not qualified for honors are either in the Gulf (that is, meritorious), but not deserving of being in the three first classes) or among the polloi, the many. See pluck, apostles, &c.
The 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.