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[word-lover] 【整理】2008-07-06 Words and Their Stories

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Now,the VOA special English program,words and their stories.

Some expressions describe people who are important or who at least think they are.One such expression is big wig.In the 17th century,important men in Europe began to wear false hair called wigs,as years passed,wigs began to get bigger,the size of a man's wig depended on how important he was.The more important he was,or thought he was,the bigger the wig he wore.Some wigs were so large they covered the man's shoulders or back.Today,the expression big wig is used to make fun of a person who feels important.People never tell someone he is a big wig.They only use the expression behind his back.

 

Big wheel is another way to describe an important person.A big wheel may be a head of a company,a political leader,a famous movie star.They are big wheels because they are powerful.What they do affects many people. Big wheels give the orders,other people carry them out as in many machines,a big wheel makes the little wheels turn.Big wheel began a popular expression after World War Ⅱ.It probably comes from an expression used for many years by people who fix parts of cars and trucks.They said a person rolled a big wheel if he was important and had influence.

 

The top of something is the highest part.So it is not surprising that top is part of another expression that describes an important person.The expression is top banana.The top banana is the leading person in a comedy show.The funniest comedian is called the top banana.The next is second banana and so on.Why a banana?A comedy act in earlier days often included a part where one of the comedians would hit the others over the head with a soft object.The object was shaped like the yellow fruit,the banana.Top banana still is used mainly in show business.Yet the expression can also be used to describe a top person in any area.

 

A king pin is another word for an important person.The expression comes from the game of bowling.The king pin is the No.1 pin.If hit correctly with the bowling ball,the king pin will make all the other nine pins bow fall.And that is the object of the game.So the most important person in a project or business is the king pin.If the king pin is removed,the business or the project is likely to fail.King pin is often used to describe an important criminal,or the leader of a criminal game.A newspaper may report ,for example,that police have arrested the suspected king pin of a car stealing operation.

 

This VOA special English program words and their stories was written by Maryland Cristiano,I'm Warren Sheer.

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