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Wheeler dealer

Posted by ESC on June 27, 2000

In Reply to: Wheeler-dealer posted by Ann on June 27, 2000

: Does anyone know the origin of the phrase wheeler-dealer? Thanks!

WHEELER DEALER - "In gaming houses of the 18th-century American West a big wheeler and dealer was a heavy bettor at cards and the roulette wheels. Through this tradition, and the association of a 'big wheel' as the man (or wheel) who makes the vehicle (things) run, the expression came to mean a big-time operator by the early 1940s, usually with an unsavory connotation, the 'wheeler dealer' being the type who runs over anything in his path with no regard for rules of the road." From Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins by Robert Hendrickson (Fact on File, New York, 1997).