big cheese

The big cheese is the person who holds the most power in any situation. If you overhear someone at work describe you as "the big cheese," it means that he thinks of you as the most important person in the office.

You might also call someone important the head honcho or the top dog. The idiomatic phrase big cheese comes from a definition of cheese that comes from Urdu, in which chiz means "a thing." The British colonization of India brought English speakers and Urdu speakers together, and one result was the phrase "the real chiz" to mean "a big thing or event." This evolved over time into big cheese.

Definitions of big cheese
  1. noun
    an important influential person
    synonyms: big deal, big enchilada, big fish, big gun, big shot, big wheel, head honcho
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    types:
    knocker
    (Yiddish) a big shot who knows it and acts that way; a boastful immoderate person
    supremo
    the most important person in an organization
    type of:
    important person, influential person, personage
    a person whose actions and opinions strongly influence the course of events
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