Lots of people think that they are bigwigs, whether they are or not.
But what is the origin of this phrase?
Well it is debated but the most plausible seems to come from the wig itself. People in positions of authority used to wear wigs to show they were important and to distance themselves from the mere hoi polloi.
Judges in particular used to wear these and had lots of power over other people, so it's thought that the judge was initially referred to as the big wig, as he literally wore a big wig and was in charge of proceedings.
The name has stuck and is still used to the current day, and this definitely seems the most plausible theory for this phrase out there. Judges still wear the wig symbolically.Back to Phrase Finder
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