News & Events

“BigWig / To Pull The Wool Over Someone’s Eyes”

Temperatures in Rome dropped this week to below freezing. A lot of us were wearing jumpers or pullovers made of wool (woolly jumpers) to keep warm. As you know wool comes from sheep and winter clothes are often made of it, for example woolly scarves, hats and gloves. What you may not know is that in the 19th century many men wore wigs (parrucche) made of wool, and the bigger the wig, the more important the man! Nowadays we still refer to an important man as a “bigwig.” For example, Steve Jobs was a bigwig at Apple. Stephen Spielberg is a bigwig in the film industry.

Often these big wigs did not fit well and they slipped down over the man’s eyes so that he couldn’t see, or robbers in the street would try to push the wigs down over the victim’s eyes to confuse him. This gave us the idiom to pull the wool over someone’s eyeswhich means to try to trick or deceive (ingannare) someone.Here are some examples:

  • “My children tried to pull the wool over my eyes by pretending they were asleep!”
  • “ I think he was trying to pull the wool over my eyes when he told me my car was fixed because the engine wouldn’t start!”

Enjoy your week!