big cheese: Idiom Meaning and Origin

What does ‘big cheese’ mean?

The idiom "big cheese" is used to refer to an important or influential person, typically in a high-ranking position in an organization, company, or group.

Idiom Explorer

Unveiling the Mastery

The idiom "big cheese" is commonly used in American English to refer to a person who holds a position of importance or power. It is often used in a figurative sense to emphasize the power and influence of the person being referred to. The exact origin of the idiom is unclear, but it is believed to have derived from the fact that cheese was considered to be a valuable and prestigious food item in American society.

One of the earliest known uses of the term "big cheese" can be traced back to the 1880s. At that time, it was a slang term used to describe an influential or significant person. Over time, the idiom became more widely recognized and began to be used in various contexts. Today, it is commonly used to describe someone who is in a position of authority or someone who holds a high-ranking position in an organization or industry.

When referring to someone as the "big cheese," it implies that they have significant control or influence over others. It suggests that they are important and may have the final say in decision-making processes or hold a position of great responsibility.

The idiom "big cheese" is often used in a lighthearted or informal manner. It can be used to acknowledge someone's leadership or power in a friendly and approachable way. However, depending on the context, it can also be used in a more serious or sarcastic tone to criticize or mock someone who may misuse their authority or act with arrogance.

The big cheese is an influential leader in our company.

While the exact origins of the idiom may be uncertain, its usage and meaning have remained relatively consistent throughout the years. It continues to be a popular idiom in American English and is understood by many.

The idiom "big fish" is related to the idiom "big cheese" in that both refer to individuals who hold positions of power or importance. While "big cheese" is more commonly used in a general sense to refer to someone in a position of authority, "big fish" is often used specifically to describe influential people within a particular industry or field.

The idiom "big wheel" is also related to the idiom "big cheese" as it is another term used to describe someone who holds a position of power or influence. It is often used to refer to individuals who are at the top of their profession or industry. The term "big wheel" suggests someone who has a significant impact on decision-making processes and holds a position of great authority.

Similarly, the idiom "big boys" is related to "big cheese" as it is used to describe individuals who are powerful or influential within a particular industry or organization. The term "big boys" suggests that these individuals are seen as leaders or important figures within their respective fields.

Overall, the idiom "big cheese" is a versatile and widely recognized expression used to describe individuals who hold positions of power, influence, and importance. Its usage and meaning have stood the test of time, and it continues to be a meaningful and relevant idiom in American English.

Example usage

Examples of how the idiom *big cheese* can be used in a sentence:

  • She is considered the big cheese in the company as she holds the highest position.
  • The big cheese at the dinner party was the celebrity chef who prepared the gourmet meal.
  • John always acts like he is the big cheese, but nobody really takes him seriously.

More "Food" idioms