hench·​man | \ ˈhench-mən How to pronounce henchman (audio) \
plural henchmen

Definition of henchman

1a : a trusted follower : a right-hand man
b : a political follower whose support is chiefly for personal advantage
c : a member of a gang
2 obsolete : a squire or page to a person of high rank

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Did You Know?

The earliest known examples of henchman in written English show it being used as a term for a squire or a page, but the word may have seen earlier use with the meaning "groom." It first appeared in Middle English at the beginning of the 15th century and is a combination of Old English hengest ("a male horse") and man. In the late 1700s, henchman began to be used for the personal attendant of a Scottish Highland chief. This sense, made familiar to many English readers by Sir Walter Scott, led to the word's use in the broader sense of "right-hand man," which in turn evolved into the other meanings.

Examples of henchman in a Sentence

a gangster surrounded by his henchmen
Recent Examples on the Web Why, after laying out this concept, does the movie then give a whole other backstory to the Crab (Jason Bateman), a noncommittal henchman whose mutation is crustacean arms? Alison Willmore, Vulture, "Melissa McCarthy Can’t Save the Day, or the Studio Comedy, in Thunder Force," 9 Apr. 2021 Ebal’s New York henchman, Joe Bulo, will one day grow up to be the same character played by Brad Garrett in season 2 of Fargo. Nick Schager, EW.com, "Fargo recap: Life in wartime," 23 Nov. 2020 Patricia was on crutches for the game recovering from summer surgery on his Achilles tendon, but his henchman, Kevin Anderson, scurried toward field judge Mike Weatherford to get the timeout. Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press, "7 things we'll always remember about Matt Patricia's time as Detroit Lions coach," 28 Nov. 2020 This strip has long been misremembered as being about Nixon, when Mark’s denunciation was directed at his top henchman, Attorney General John Mitchell. Washington Post, "As 'Doonesbury’ turns 50, Garry Trudeau picks his 10 defining strips," 27 Nov. 2020 The character of Caleb morphs into Christina's handsome blond henchman, William (Jordan Patrick Smith, Vikings), in the series. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Review: Lovecraft Country is a cleverly subversive take that (mostly) works," 26 Oct. 2020 Ebal returns from New York City with a henchman in tow. Nick Schager, EW.com, "Fargo recap: Countdown to catastrophe," 26 Oct. 2020 After some comical dithering, a henchman is sent to dispatch Agrippina the old-fashioned way, with a sword. Gaia Squarci, Smithsonian Magazine, "The New, Nicer Nero," 18 Sep. 2020 Thankfully, he's got Steve by his bedside, and new addition Lincoln Cole (Lance Gross) has a pal who can crack the cipher, eventually leading to a shootout with Daiyu and her henchmen. Derek Lawrence, EW.com, "Hawaii Five-0 boss on the 'raw' and 'genuine' series finale, and that surprise return," 4 Apr. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'henchman.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of henchman

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for henchman

Middle English henshman, hengestman groom, from hengest stallion (from Old English) + man; akin to Old High German hengist gelding

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Time Traveler for henchman

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The first known use of henchman was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

22 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Henchman.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/henchman. Accessed 12 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for henchman



English Language Learners Definition of henchman

disapproving : a trusted follower or supporter who performs unpleasant, wrong, or illegal tasks for a powerful person (such as a politician or criminal)


hench·​man | \ ˈhench-mən How to pronounce henchman (audio) \
plural henchmen\ -​mən \

Kids Definition of henchman

: a trusted follower or supporter and especially someone who performs unpleasant or illegal tasks

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