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

As the near-invincible DSS agent, Johnson has been thrown through glass windows, survived fiery car crashes, and gone toe-to-toe with psychopathic assassins, always pulling through to pummel another henchman and deliver some more quips. Devan Coggan, EW.com, "Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, and Idris Elba gear up for Fast & Furious spin-off Hobbs & Shaw," 27 June 2019 Ever since his call up, McIntyre has been a monster henchman, crushing the competition for Dolph Ziggler and, now, Shane McMahon. Joe Nguyen, The Denver Post, "Stomping Grounds: Predictions, breakdowns of the WWE matches at Tacoma Dome," 16 June 2019 Woody and Forky are held in the store by Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks), a lonely doll, and her henchmen, a group of creepy ventriloquist dummies. Bill Goodykoontz, azcentral, "'Toy Story 4' doesn't need to exist, but in the end it's OK that it does," 15 June 2019 Trump and his henchmen should not be allowed to constantly claim exceptions to that rule. oregonlive.com, "Judge temporarily halts grazing on federal public land near Burns," 4 June 2019 The president has all but done away with press conferences, instead sending his henchman Aunt Lydia Sarah Huckabee Sanders, aka Suckabee, to do his lying. Stephen A. Crockett Jr., The Root, "Trump Wants to Punish Journalists, Admits That ‘Fake News’ Is Anything Negative About His Administration," 9 May 2018 Executive director Caroline Ciccone was a longtime DNC and Obama campaign surrogate, and her advisory board is stocked with former Obama staffers (Brad Woodhouse) and allies of Clinton henchman David Brock (Shripal Sha). Kimberley A. Strassel, WSJ, "The Trump ‘Ethics’ Resistance," 27 Dec. 2018 The dust has settled after last July’s elections (which controversially installed former Mugabe henchman Emmerson Mnangagwa, a.k.a. Klara Glowczewska, Town & Country, "The Best Places to Travel in 2019," 7 Dec. 2018 After calmly persuading his henchman to holster his weapon, El Chapo pulled Mr. Martínez aside. Sam Walker, WSJ, "Help! My Boss Is El Chapo," 12 Jan. 2019

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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Statistics for henchman

Last Updated

13 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for henchman

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

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on henchman

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with henchman

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for henchman

Spanish Central: Translation of henchman

Nglish: Translation of henchman for Spanish Speakers

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