One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1rare In Hawaii: a prominent priest, sage, or healer. Compare "kahuna". rare.
2Surfing. (A name for) a particularly skilled or respected surfer.
3A person or thing of great importance or power.
Late 19th century; earliest use found in Leprosy in Hawaii. From big + kahuna.
big kahuna/ˌbɪɡ kəˈhuːnə/
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