What’s a Big Shot? – Origin & Meaning

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

Big shot. You’ve heard it, I’ve heard it, we’ve all heard it: big shot. But do you really understand what it means? I’m sure you’ve got some idea based on the words themselves, but let’s dive deeper. I love the origin of this phrase. It makes me think of one of my fav TV shows, “Peaky Blinders,” and by the end of this quick guide, you’ll be thinking the same thing. 

Big Shot Meaning Explained

Whats a Big Shot Origin Meaning

When we call someone a big shot, we’re basically saying they have an important role or some heavy influence, usually in a specific field or area of something. This person will probably have a lot of authority with their job position or wealth.

Big Shot or Bigshot?

Big Shot vs Bigshot Ngram
Big shot and bigshot usage trend.

I’ve seen both versions tossed around, but they’re correct and mean the same thing. You can write the term as a single word, bigshot, or as two words, big shot. Both versions are right, and you can use them interchangeably.

Is Big Shot Slang?

Yes, you could say that. Big shot falls into the informal or colloquial language category, often used in casual conversation rather than in more formal or official communication.

Big Shot Origin and Etymology

Big Shot Ngram
Big shot usage trend.

The term big shot was birthed from American English, dating back to the early 20th century. It’s said to have been derived from the phrase big gun, a metaphor for influential people in gangster slang. The term big shot has kept the essence of this metaphor, highlighting the significant impact or “firepower” a person can have.

Synonyms for Big Shot

Flip things around and use different words to convey the same idea.

  • High-flyer
  • VIP
  • Heavyweight
  • Big wig
  • Mogul
  • Tycoon
  • Powerhouse
  • Influencer
  • Big cheese

Big Shot Examples in a Sentence

Whats a Big Shot Origin Meaning 1

Understanding a phrase always becomes a bit easier when we see it in action, right? So, let’s take a look at some sentences with big shot.

  • After years of hard work, John became a big shot in the tech industry.
  • She’s a big shot in the world of fashion, dictating trends and styles.
  • “You’re acting like some big shot, but remember where you came from,” his brother warned.
  • As a big-shot lawyer, she won every case that came her way.
  • I’m just a small-town girl; I never expected to be dating a big shot like him.
  • Tommy Shelby is a big shot in Peaky Blinders.
  • Moving to Hollywood made him feel like a big shot.
  • With her recent promotion, she’s become quite the big shot in the company.
  • “Just because you’re a big shot doesn’t mean you can ignore the rules,” the teacher reminded him.

Take Your Shot

From being a simple slang term to representing influential figures, big shot has become a staple in our everyday language. Isn’t language fascinating? Remember, whenever you stumble upon a term or phrase you’re unsure of, just swing by our site. We’re your one-stop destination for all things language-related!