Big Gun Meaning
(idiomatic, by extension, usually pluralized) A person, group, thing, or course of action that is powerful, influential, or particularly effective.
Example: 1870 Dec. 2, "The Suez Mail," Southland Times (New Zealand), Issue 1342, p. 2:
London, Nov. 1: The big guns opened fire on Paris today at mid-day.
1968 March 26, "Battleship begins Viet Tests," Evening News (Newburgh, NY, USA), p. 1 (retrieved 19 Aug. 2011):
The smaller crew was possible because the battleship was stripped of all but her big guns.
2008 Dec. 6, William J. Bennett and John Cribb, "Deadly resolve answered attack ," Daily Courier (USA) (retrieved 19 Aug. 2011):
The USS West Virginia became one of many symbols of American resolve. . . . Her big guns pounded the enemy at the battles of Leyte Gulf, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa.
1888 June 6, "A Great Day for Big Guns," New York Times (retrieved 20 Aug. 2011):
This has been a great day for the big guns. This does not refer to Prof. Lummis and the other big guns of the Board of Visitors, for every day is a great one for them.
1957 Aug. 28, Ed Wilks, "Sports" (Headline), Park City News (USA), p. 15 (retrieved 20 Aug. 2011):
Berra Is Big Gun In Yankee Victory
2001 June 29, Frank Pellegrini, "Whatever Happened to Military Restructuring?," Time:
And the administration's big guns â€” Bush, Cheney, Powell and once-and-current Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld â€” had the clout to make bold and necessary changes.
2007 March 26, Yuri Wuensch, "Eric Clapton simply masterful," canoe.ca (Canada) (retrieved 20 Aug. 2011):
Clapton kept the big guns for last, finishing the set off with Derek and the Domino's "Layla", complete with the haunting instrumentals at song's end.