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Origin of the term “Big Enchilada”

The Slang Term “Big Enchilada” Was Popularized By Watergate

John Ehrlichman, President Richard Nixon’s chief domestic affairs adviser, popularized so many catchphrases, he could have been a pro wrestler. One of these was “the big enchilada,” which he used to refer to U.S. Attorney General John Mitchell. Ehrlichman was caught on tape expressing his hope that Mitchell, as a big name and political heavyweight, could take the blame for Watergate and get the heat off of everyone else. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary now defines “the big enchilada” as a phrase meaning “the most important issue, person, etc.” The Watergate scandal and ensuing trial also popularized the terms “cover-up,” “deep-six,” and “smoking gun,” the latter of which was used to describe the tape Nixon made that reveals he ordered the FBI to stop investigating the break-in.

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