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 At the same time, the Russian military has worked behind the scenes to surround Mr. Hifter with many of its old partners from the Qaddafi-era security forces, encouraging Qaddafi henchmen to return from exile. David D. Kirkpatrick, New York Times, "The White House Blessed a War in Libya, but Russia Won It," 14 Apr. 2020 As Carrie and Arman wait in mind-numbingly extreme Kabul traffic, some of Yevgeny's henchmen pull her from the truck to arrange a hasty secret meeting. Seija Rankin, EW.com, "Homeland recap: Ka-boom again, again," 13 Apr. 2020 Its boss, Igor Sechin, is one of Vladimir Putin’s closest henchmen. The Economist, "Rosneft’s sleight of hand Why Putin’s favourite oil firm dumped its Venezuelan assets," 2 Apr. 2020 Chiang’s henchmen imprisoned and murdered large numbers of Taiwanese intellectuals and professionals who resisted KMT rule. Ian Buruma, Harper's Magazine, "Common Enemy," 23 Nov. 2019 But drug cartel henchman Lalo Salamanca has emerged during its last two seasons as the one who smiles the most — and is one of the most dangerous. Los Angeles Times, "‘Better Call Saul’s’ charming villain on the finale moment that made him go ‘Whoa!’," 20 Apr. 2020 No henchmen of adversarial intelligence services or money-grubbing fraudsters are going to abide by such a magnanimous international accord—even if governments or corporations pay it lip service. Robert Hackett, Fortune, "A ‘digital ceasefire’ is unrealistic during the pandemic," 15 Apr. 2020 This time, the setting is Soviet Russia in 1951 and sees the killer doll battle Joseph Stalin’s henchmen on a plane. Alex Ritman, The Hollywood Reporter, "Why Low-Budget Horror Will Never Die," 8 Nov. 2019 Xi's henchmen silenced people who tried to expose the reality on the ground. Barnini Chakraborty, Fox News, "China's relationship with WHO chief in wake of coronavirus outbreak under the microscope," 20 Mar. 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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The first known use of henchman was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

17 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Henchman.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/henchman. Accessed 29 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for henchman


How to pronounce henchman (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for henchman

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with henchman

Spanish Central: Translation of henchman

Nglish: Translation of henchman for Spanish Speakers

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