big cheese

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From big + cheese (wealth, fame, importance). Earliest use to mean importance from 1910.[1][2]


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big cheese (plural big cheeses)

  1. (idiomatic) A very important figure, especially a high-ranking person in an organization.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:important person
    He’ll be meeting with the big cheese first thing tomorrow, to present his proposal.
    • 1980, Robert Stack as Rex Kramer, Airplane!, written by Jim Abrahams, David Zucker & Jerry Zucker:
      I know. But it's his ship now, his command; he's in charge, he's the boss, the head man, the top dog, the big cheese, the head honcho, number one...
    • 1995, Rich Mendoza (music), “Where The Money Goes”, in Money Rock[1], performed by Schoolhouse Rock!/Jack Sheldon:
      If not for all these bills and taxes, our income would more than suffice. I feel like a real big cheese, until everybody takes a slice!



  1. ^ Big cheese” in Gary Martin, The Phrase Finder, 1997–.
  2. ^ O. Henry (1910) Unprofessional Servant: “Del had crawled from some Tenth Avenue basement like a lean rat and had bitten his way into the Big Cheese... He had danced his way into fame in sixteen minutes.”