whole enchilada: Idiom Meaning and Origin

What does ‘whole enchilada’ mean?

The idiom "whole enchilada" means the entirety or everything of a particular thing or situation.

Idiom Explorer

Decoding the Enigmatic Phrase

The idiom "whole enchilada" is a popular American expression with its roots in Mexican cuisine. The term "enchilada" refers to a traditional Mexican dish consisting of a rolled tortilla filled with various ingredients, such as meat, cheese, and sauce. This idiom is used metaphorically to describe a situation or thing that includes or encompasses everything, leaving no part incomplete or missing.

One of the related idioms is the "whole shebang," which means the entirety of something. It is often used to emphasize the completeness of a situation or event. Similarly, the idiom "whole shooting match" is another way to express the entirety of something. It originated from the world of shooting matches or competitions, where the phrase was used to refer to the entire event. These idioms can be used interchangeably with "whole enchilada" to convey the idea of completeness.

Mexican food: the entirety of completeness in every bite.

Another related idiom is the "whole ball of wax." This expression refers to the entirety or entirety of a situation. It is often used to emphasize the all-inclusive nature of something. Similarly, the phrase "as a whole" is another way to express the idea of entirety. It is used to describe something in its entirety, without leaving out any parts or aspects. These idioms can be used alongside "whole enchilada" to highlight completeness and inclusiveness.

Lastly, the idiom "one and all" is another expression related to the concept of entirety. It is used to refer to every single person or thing within a group, emphasizing the inclusivity and completeness of the group as a whole. This idiom can be used alongside "whole enchilada" to emphasize the idea that every part or aspect is accounted for and included.

Overall, the idiom "whole enchilada" is a vivid and relatable expression that effectively conveys the idea of completeness. It has become deeply ingrained in the American English language and is widely recognized and understood. Its origins may be unclear, but its cultural significance and adaptability make it a fascinating idiom within the realm of idiomatic expressions. As English continues to evolve, it will be intriguing to observe the emergence and assimilation of new idiomatic expressions, each adding its own unique flavor to the linguistic landscape.

Example usage

Examples of how the idiom "whole enchilada" can be used in a sentence:

1. After working hard for years, she finally got the promotion and now she is in charge of the whole enchilada.

2. We managed to win the game and secure the championship. It was a tough match, but we gave it our all and came out with the whole enchilada.

3. The company went bankrupt and had to close its doors. They lost the whole enchilada, including their assets and employees.

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