Does "big cheese" mean a celebrity or an important person?

I think there is a difference between celebrity and an important person.

And can I use big cheese in a context that denotes I'm referring to a celebrity?

Can I use it like this?

"Will Smith is a big cheese."

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    It's the same as the head honcho. Except to a mouse. – Hot Licks Aug 17 '16 at 12:44
  • Hello, David. You can search Google for definitions by adding "define" in front of a word. For example, search for "define big cheese". – NVZ Aug 17 '16 at 12:47
  • This site has a helpful picture of a big cheese: idioms4you.com/complete-idioms/big-cheese.html – DyingIsFun Aug 17 '16 at 12:48
  • @NVZ I already did that I'm just confused as I explained in the question – David Powell Aug 17 '16 at 12:48
  • It doesn't normally apply to celebrities. See my above link: "the most important or influential person, usually in an organization, business or government." – DyingIsFun Aug 17 '16 at 12:48

Big cheeseDictionary

noun, Older Slang. 1. an influential or important person
"Who's the big cheese around here?"

A big cheese — TFD

humorous an important or powerful person in a group or organization.
"Apparently her father is a big cheese in one of the major banks."

It doesn't sound okay when you say "Will Smith is a big cheese." Instead, you should mention a group or organisation. For example, this is much better.

"Will Smith is a big cheese in the film industry"

  • can I use it like this " Will Smith is a big cheese. " ? – David Powell Aug 17 '16 at 12:47
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    No, I would say more like: "Will Smith is a big cheese in Hollywood." – GEdgar Aug 17 '16 at 12:50
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    FWIW I would use big cheese in more specific circumstances rather than just to denote a persons general popularity - e.g. "Will Smith is a big cheese at the Screen Actors Guild of Naff Movies", "Donald trump is the big cheese at Trump Intl.", etc – Toby Aug 17 '16 at 12:50
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    @DavidPowell No, I don't think that sounds okay. But try instead, "Will Smith is a big cheese in the film industry". – NVZ Aug 17 '16 at 12:50

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