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Related to enchilada: quesadilla, the whole enchilada
1. The most important or powerful person in a group, organization, business, or movement (e.g., the boss, leader, etc.). Primarily heard in US, South Africa. I think it sounds like a great idea, but you'll have to ask the big enchilada first.
2. An object or goal of great value, importance, or consequence. Primarily heard in US, South Africa. We only need to win two more games in the tournament to take home the big enchilada.
An important, successful, or influential person. Jacob thinks he's a big cheese now that he's been promoted to assistant manager. I'm the big cheese around here, so you have to do what I say.
Inf. the whole thing; everything. (From Spanish.) Nobody, but nobody, ever gets the whole enchilada. Richard wants the whole enchilada.
Also, big shot or gun or wheel or enchilada . An important, powerful person; the boss. For example, She loved being the big cheese of her company; the big guns in Congress are bound to change the President's bill; you'd better not act like a big shot among your old friends; Harry was the big wheel in his class ; and You'll have to get permission from the big enchilada. The first term dates from the late 1800s and its origin is disputed. Some think it comes from the Urdu word chiz or cheez for "thing," but others hold it plays on the English word "chief." Big gun is much older, dating from the early 1800s; big shot became very popular in the late 1920s, particularly when used for underworld leaders of gangsters; big wheel dates from about the same period. Big enchilada, often put as the big enchilada, is the newest, dating from the early 1970s.
see under big cheese.
whole ball of wax, the
Also, the whole enchilada or shooting match or shebang . Everything, all the elements, the entire affair. For example, The union demanded higher wages, a pension plan, job security-the whole ball of wax, or The contract includes paperback rights, film rights, electronic media-the whole enchilada, or She lost her job, her pension, her health-care coverage, the whole shooting match. Not all the allusions in these slangy terms are clear. Ball of wax may refer to a 17th-century English legal practice whereby land was divided among heirs by covering scraps of paper representing portions of land with wax, rolling each into a ball, and drawing the balls from a hat. An enchilada combines several foods inside a tortilla; a shooting match denotes a shooting competition; and a shebang is a rude hut or shelter. The first two of these slangy terms date from the second half of the 1900s, the last two from the late 1800s. For synonyms, see whole kit and caboodle; whole megillah.
the whole enchiladaAMERICAN, INFORMAL
If you describe something as the whole enchilada, you mean that it is as complete or extreme as possible. We should bomb them, send in the Marines — the whole enchilada. Consumers who want this software can download the whole enchilada from their website. Note: The usual British expression is the whole caboodle.
n. the boss; the key figure; the leader. Here’s a note from the big cheese telling me to come in for a chat.
n. the boss; the leader. (see also big cheese.) The big enchilada has sent word that it’s safe to return.
the whole enchilada(...ɛntʃəˈlɑdə)
n. the whole thing; everything. (From Spanish.) Pete wants the whole enchilada.
The entirety of something; everything.
A very important person. The phrase seems to have come from, literally, a very large wheel of cheese. After President Jefferson was given one of Cheshire in 1802, other dairies made and displayed huge wheels for publicity purposes. The cheeses attracted lots of attention, and so it wasn't much of a jump to referring to someone who attracted attention as a “big cheese.” Although some have suggested that “cheese” came from the Hindu word “chiz,” for “thing” that the British heard as “cheese,” no paper trail exists to show that Americans started using the phrase though any transatlantic connection. Similar “big” phrases are more common, such as big deal and big wheel.