hench·man | \ˈhench-mən \

Definition of henchman 

1 obsolete : a squire or page to a person of high rank

2a : a trusted follower : a right-hand man

b : a political follower whose support is chiefly for personal advantage

c : a member of a gang

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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

The Silence of Others chronicles a growing grassroots campaign among victims of the old regime who are seeking to overturn the Amnesty Law and drag Franco's surviving henchmen to justice. Stephen Dalton, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The Silence of Others': Film Review | Berlin 2018," 21 Feb. 2018 And, because Trump still doesn’t realize that the employees of the DOJ are not his personal henchmen, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) tweeted a word just to remind the president how this works. Stephen A. Crockett Jr., The Root, "Trump’s Bullying of the Justice Department Again Must Mean the Russia Investigation Is Heating Up," 21 May 2018 Numan Acar: plays Nakim, head of the palace guards and one of Jafar's henchmen. Sydney Odman, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Aladdin': Everything to Know About the Live-Action Remake of the Disney Classic," 5 July 2018 His henchmen that day had killed a U.S. congressman and others who'd come to Jonestown to investigate charges of abuse. Will Higgins, Indianapolis Star, "She woke up in Jonestown — everyone was dead," 13 July 2018 Every oppressive regime, Joseph is saying, needs its henchmen. Chris Jones, chicagotribune.com, "'Guards at the Taj,' staring at beauty, pondering atrocities," 12 June 2018 One of the running jokes in the first episode is how many henchmen try to use guns on Luke Cage. Alex Abad-santos, Vox, "What went right and what went wrong for Luke Cage’s second season," 22 June 2018 The two girls, along with their parents, brother and grandmother, were attempting to flee Jim Jones’ Peoples Temple cult, known as Jonestown, when they were ambushed by several of Jones’ gun-toting henchman on a primitive airport tarmac. Johnny Dodd, PEOPLE.com, "Jonestown Cult Victim’s Daughter Was Haunted Until Her Death: 'I Wish that Bullet that Got Mom Had Killed Me’," 7 June 2018 Before becoming Hitler’s most ardent henchman, Himmler had been a chicken farmer obsessed with the idea of breeding pure white chickens. Beverly Beckham, BostonGlobe.com, "Looking up a new word, and seeing its monstrosity," 1 June 2018

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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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Statistics for henchman

Last Updated

19 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for henchman

The first known use of henchman was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for henchman



English Language Learners Definition of henchman

: 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 \
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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Comments on henchman

What made you want to look up henchman? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to reject or criticize sharply

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