Wig

A variation of the French perruque, Latin pilucca, our periwig cut short. In the middle of the eighteenth century we meet with thirty or forty different names for wigs: as the artichoke, bag, barrister's, bishop's, brush, bush [buzz], buckle, busby, chain, chancellor's, corded wolf's paw, Count Saxe's mode, the crutch, the cut bob, the detached buckle, the Dalmahoy (a bob-wig worn by tradesmen), the drop, the Dutch, the full, the half-natural, the Jansenist bob, the judge's, the ladder, the long bob, the Louis, the periwig, the pigeon's wing, the rhinoceros, the rose, the scratch, the she-dragon, the small back, the spinach seed, the staircase, the Welsh, and the wild boar's back.

A bigwig.
A magnate. Louis XIV. had long flowing hair, and the courtiers, out of compliment to the young king, wore perukes. When Louis grew older he adopted the wig, which very soon encumbered the head and shoulders of the aristocracy of England and France, Lord Chancellors, judges, and barristers still wear big wigs. Bishops used to wear them in the House of Lords till 1880.

“An ye faover the clough, there will be but ae wig left in the parish, and that's the minister's.” — Sir Walter Scott: The Antiquary.

Make wigs. A perruquier, who fancied himself “married to immortal verse,” sent his epic to Voltaire, asking him to examine it and give his “candid opinion” of its merits, The witty patriarch of Ferney simply wrote on the MS. “Make wigs, make wigs, make wigs,” and returned it to the barber-poet. (See Sutor, Stick to the cow.)

Wig

(A). A head. Similarly, the French call a head a binette. As “Quelle binette! ” or “Il a une drole de binette! ” M. Binet was the court wig-maker in the reign of Louis XIV. “M. Binet, qui foit les perruques du roy, demcure Rue des Petils-Champs. ” (Almanack des addresses sous Louis XIV.)

“Fleas are not lobsters, dash my wig.”

S. Butler: Hudibras.

Wig

War (Anglo-Saxon). The word enters into many names of places, as Wigan in Lancashire, where Arthur is said to have routed the Saxons.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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