an important person


bigwig = einflussreiche Persönlichkeit, große Nummer, hohes Tier --- GOOGLE INDEX bigwig: approximately 215,000 Google hits



Parliamentary committees are normally sleepy affairs. Backbench MPs get the chance to question the occasional BIGWIG. By replying to questions succinctly witnesses typically escape without letting slip anything too revealing.

The Economist

Did you

noun (colloquial)

- a person who has an important or powerful position

(Cambridge Dictionary)


According to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), we call people bigwigs because "of the large wigs formerly worn by men of distinction or importance." Since these wigs were very expensive, during the time that they were a fad they were viewed more as a status symbol than anything, although some men who could afford them certainly wore them to hide their baldness.

The OED says that the word "wig," as in the hairpiece, was first recorded in the 1600s as a short form of "periwig," one of two words for hairpiece that evolved in the English language in the 1500s. The other was "peruke." Both of these terms derived from a Middle French word spelled perrucque or perruque.

The French terms originally meant a natural head of long hair, but "periwig" and for most of its history "peruke," have meant artificial hairpieces. Peruke also survives to this day in the German word for wig: Perücke.

Times change of course, and now bald men or men with extremely close-cropped hair can obtain important or powerful positions - and even those with really bad haircuts.


big cheese, big enchilada, big gun, big shot, big wheel, boss, chief, head honcho, top dog

SMUGGLE OWAD into today's conversation
say something like:

"Which downtown hotels are favoured by visiting bigwigs?"

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