wheeling and dealing

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Senior Member
Korea, Korean
Last year, a Japanese man who trafficked in Queen Alexandra’s birdwings, one of the largest butterflies in the world, was arrested, as were four people accused of wheeling and dealing in endangered dragon fish. (source)

In this example, wheeling and dealing is something illegal.
But is "wheel and deal" not necessarily dishonest?
  • ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    I wouldn't say wheeling and dealing was necessarily always dishonest ~ but it is very often used for activity which, if not downright illegal, is on the borderline between legality and illegality.

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    A problem with buying and selling antiques, or anything whose value is hard to estimate, is that the borderline which Ewie mentions isn't clear-cut. Someone I know, a dealer, bought a stamp from an old person for 10 thousand GBP and put it up for auction where it sold for 2 million GBP. She pocketed the difference, was done for fraud and jailed for six months. What is the price she could have received at auction where she could have kept the profit and stayed within the law? It's a nice question.

    The people who make money in that way are often accused of being on the edge of the law, hence the development of opprobrious terms (trafficking, wheeling and dealing) for their activity.

    The case of these rare plants and animals is more clear-cut.
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