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 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 Their henchmen have beheaded defiant sheikhs and killed confidants of Libya’s grand mufti, who supports the GNA. The Economist, "The battle for Tripoli could be decided by the Madkhalis," 14 Nov. 2019 The winner of the Inkin’ Memorial: Despite trying and trying and trying and not getting any early action on WMDs, Operation Iraqi Freedom did ultimately nab Hussein and many of his henchmen. Washington Post, "Style Conversational Week 1379: Zing, zing a song," 9 Apr. 2020 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

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

11 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Henchman.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/henchman. Accessed 23 Nov. 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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Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for henchman

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