big cheese

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From big + cheese (wealth, fame, importance).

Earliest use to mean importance:

  • 1910, O. Henry, 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.

Noun[edit]

big cheese (plural big cheeses)

  1. (idiomatic) A very important figure, especially a high-ranking person in an organization.
    He'll be meeting with the big cheese first thing tomorrow, to present his proposal.

Synonyms[edit]

Translations[edit]