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Bigwig

  • Bigwig is an idiom that is several hundred years old. An idiom is a word, group of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech like an often-used metaphor have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words or other parts of speech, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as in a blue moon, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, silver lining, back to the drawing board, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, because they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker; it is helpful to maintain a list of phrases, common expressions, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the idiom bigwig, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.


     

    A bigwig is an important person; the person may be important in government, society, business, or religion, among other things. For instance, a bigwig may be a prime minister, an important surgeon, the principal of a school, or a newspaper editor. The status of being a bigwig is relative to the community in which he is important. The idiom bigwig is a closed compound word. A wig is a false hairpiece, used to conceal baldness or change one’s appearance because of vanity or a need to disguise oneself. Wigs became popular among the French aristocracy under Louis XIII and this popularity continued through the 1700s. As one may imagine, the richer a man was, the bigger and more elaborate his wig. The word wig is an abbreviation of the word periwig, which was an Anglicization of the French word, perruque and the idiom bigwig came into use at the turn of the eighteenth century. The plural form of bigwig is bigwigs.

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    Examples

    Police break up party in honor of Likud bigwig held in violation of virus rules (The Times of Israel)

    Big B did not visit him when he was in jail and this did not go down well with the political bigwig. (The Deccan Herald)

    “The Assistant”: Julia Garner stars in writer-director Kitty Green’s film about the day in the life of a young assistant to a bigwig in the entertainment industry, available on Hulu starting Monday. (The Tulsa World)


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