A Big Cheese

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An important, influential person who has a lot of power and authority.


  • “The CEO of the company is a big cheese. He makes all the major decisions and has a lot of sway over the direction of the business.”


The origin of the phrase “a big cheese” is not entirely clear. One theory suggests that it may have come from the Urdu word “chiz” which means “thing,” and was used in British India to refer to an important person or thing. Another theory suggests that it may have come from the practice of using a large wheel of cheese as a prize in competitions, with the winner being referred to as “the big cheese.” Regardless of its origin, the phrase has been in use since at least the late 19th century to describe an influential person.

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Dr. James Morrison
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