hench·​man ˈhench-mən How to pronounce henchman (audio)
plural henchmen
: a trusted follower : a right-hand man
: a political follower whose support is chiefly for personal advantage
: a member of a gang
obsolete : a squire or page to a person of high rank

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The earliest known examples of henchman 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 and is a combination of Old English hengest ("a male horse") and man. One of the duties of a groom, squire, or page to a person of high rank was tending horses, and such a person was relied upon, which influenced the broader senses of henchman including "right-hand man."

Examples of henchman in a Sentence

a gangster surrounded by his henchmen
Recent Examples on the Web One man one problem, no man no problem—as Stalin and his henchmen put it. Time, 24 Aug. 2023 The area, brought to life with Illumination, is just as creative and exciting as the yellow henchmen themselves. Mariah Thomas, Good Housekeeping, 23 Aug. 2023 Where the franchise has lacked, however, is in the category of good old fashioned henchmen. Evan Romano, Men's Health, 17 July 2023 As Russian defectors have learned, the country’s henchmen operate everywhere. Gary Saul Morson, WSJ, 1 Sep. 2023 Several of his henchmen have their guns trained on Robert McCall, a.k.a. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 30 Aug. 2023 For years, he was denounced by the West as a Kremlin henchman and hailed by Russian state media as a patriot. Brian Murphy, Washington Post, 26 Aug. 2023 Hickey died at 69 on June 29, 1997, as reported by The New York Times. 06 Paul Reubens as Lock Voiced by Paul Reubens (né Rubenfeld), Lock is one-third of Oogie Boogie's henchmen alongside Shock and Barrel. Alexia Fernández, Peoplemag, 11 Aug. 2023 Later, investigating a shady gambling boat, Perry undoes the courtroom suit jacket and loosens his tie, while a brawl with henchmen musses his crisp shirt. Fawnia Soo Hoo, The Hollywood Reporter, 9 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'henchman.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

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


Dictionary Entries Near henchman

Cite this Entry

“Henchman.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/henchman. Accessed 25 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


hench·​man ˈhench-mən How to pronounce henchman (audio)
: a trusted follower or supporter who performs unpleasant, wrong, or illegal tasks for a powerful person

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