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 bigwig.
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 a man's shoulders or back.
Today, the expression "bigwig" is used to make fun of a person who feels important. People never tell someone he is a bigwig. They only use the expression behind his back.
"Big wheel" is another way to describe an important person. A big wheel may be the 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 became 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. A "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 the top person in any area.
A "kingpin" is another word for an important person. The expression comes from the game of bowling. The kingpin is the number one pin. If hit correctly with the bowling ball, the kingpin will make all the other nine pins fall. And that is the object of the game.
So, the most important person in a project or business is the kingpin. If the kingpin is removed, the business or project is likely to fail.
Kingpin is often used to describe an important criminal, or the leader of a criminal gang. A newspaper may report, for example, that "police have arrested the suspected kingpin of a car-stealing operation."
This VOA Special English program Words and Their Stories was written by Marilyn Christiano. I'm Warren Scheer.
1.bigwig n. 权贵之人；有重大影响的人
I feel terrible, I am late a meeting with a bigwig client.
2.comedian n. 喜剧演员；滑稽人物
He started out as a standup comedian in Liverpool.
3.kingpin n. [机] 中心立轴；主要人物
one of the alleged kingpins of Colombia's largest drug ring.
1.Today, the expression "bigwig" is used to make fun of a person who feels important.
make fun of 取笑
It's cruel to make fun of a cripple.
Don't make fun of us.
17世纪，欧洲的重要人物开始戴假发，这种假发叫做。多年之后，假发wigs越来越大 。一个男子所戴的假发的大小取决于他的重要性 。他越重要——或者自认为越重要——他戴的假发就越大 。一些假发非常大，一直盖到肩部或背部 。
Big wheel是描述重要的人的另外一个表达方式。Big wheel(大人物)可能是公司的主心骨，政治领袖，或者著名的电影明星 。他们是Big wheel，因为他们很有能力 。他们的所作所为能够影响许多人,Big wheels(大人物)下命令，其他人来实施 。就像在许多机器中，大轮(Big wheel)带动小轮转 。
Big wheel在第二次世界大战后成为流行用语。这个短语可能来自安装卡车或小汽车组件的人多年来使用的短语 。他们说，如果一个人比较重要，比较有影响力，那么由他来转动大轮 。
某个东西的顶部是最高的部分。所以，不出所料，top也用在另外一个表达某人很重要的短语中 。这个短语就是：top banana 。 top banana在喜剧表演中是主角 。最有趣的喜剧演员被称为top banana，接下来就是second banana，以此类推 。
现在，Top banana仍然在表演行业中使用。然而，这个表达方式还可以用来形容任何领域的重要人物 。
kingpin是用来表达重要人物的另外一个短语。kingpin是第一个球针 。如果正确地用保龄球击中，kingpin会让其他九个球针都落下 。这就是保龄球游戏的目标 。
VOA慢速英语词语典故节目由Marilyn Christiano编辑，我是Warren Scheer。