"Wheeler dealer"

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Senior Member
Hello. I came upon this word recently and I was very captivated by it. I looked up its meaning, and I found several explanations: 1. a person who engages in commercial or political scheming; 2. a shrewd or unscrupulous person who knows how to circumvent difficulties; 3. One who advances one's own interests by canny, aggressive, or unscrupulous behavior; and 4. a clever or crafty person who devises intricate, highly profitable schemes and transactions, as in business or politics.

Could you tell me which one is correct?

Also, could you give me a real-life example of someone well-known who can be called a wheeler dealer? Would ex-president Clinton be one? Lastly, is it a good thing to be called a wheeler dealer? As in, if I were to call someone a wheeler dealer, would he be offended? Thanks.
  • tepatria

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    All the meanings are correct and you can see that there are negative connotations to each one. I would take offence at being called a wheeler dealer, but some people would not. They believe that cunning and/or unscrupulous behaviour is acceptable if they get what they want. The movie "The Wolf of Wall Street" is about a wheeler dealer.

    Enquiring Mind

    Senior Member
    English - the Queen's
    Hi panzer, I agree with tepatria's explanation. The term "wheeler-dealer" implies a sense of "dishonesty", "underhandedness" or "acting in a way that is not morally right".

    I wouldn't apply the term to Clinton, and I wouldn't be able (in a public forum) to give you any real-life examples, though God knows there are enough of them, and they are usually rich enough to afford good libel lawyers ;).
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