[en-chuh-lah-duh, -lad-uh]
noun Mexican Cookery.
a tortilla rolled and filled with a seasoned mixture, usually containing meat, and covered with a sauce flavored with chili.
big/top enchilada, Slang. someone regarded as the most important, influential, or dominant person in an organization: The police are hoping to catch the syndicate's big enchilada in the next raid.
whole enchilada, Slang. the entirety of something, especially something impressive or outstanding: She has a job with money, prestige, and satisfaction—the whole enchilada.

1885–90; < American Spanish, feminine of Spanish enchilado spiced with chili (past participle of enchilar), equivalent to en- en-1 + chil(e) chili + -ado -ate1

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World English Dictionary
enchilada (ˌɛntʃɪˈlɑːdə)
a Mexican dish consisting of a tortilla fried in hot fat, filled with meat, and served with a chilli sauce
[C19: American Spanish, feminine of enchilado seasoned with chilli, from enchilar to spice with chilli, from chilechilli]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

1887, Amer.Eng., from Mexican Sp. enchilada, fem. pp. of enchilar "season with chili," from en- "in" + chile "chili."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


see big cheese (enchilada); whole ball of wax (enchilada).

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
Her winning recipes were enchilada pie and pumpkin pie cake.
Ask participants who have the enchilada recipe cards to identify themselves.
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