henchman

noun
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

Two detectives battle a Hong Kong gangster and his henchmen after a bombing at the U.S. Embassy. Los Angeles Times, "Movies on TV this week Sept. 1 - 7, 2019: John Wayne in ‘The Searchers’ and more," 30 Aug. 2019 The photo features Emma Stone sporting Cruella de Vil's signature two-toned hair and holding the leashes of three Dalmatians while flanked by two of her henchmen. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Disney Reveals the First Picture of Emma Stone as Cruella de Vil," 25 Aug. 2019 Rather than process a deed transfer and sell to a flipper, Sloan gives up on the money and heads out, telling his henchman to kill Nick, who's promptly shot in the back. Scott Craven, azcentral, "Movie review: Frank Grillo action yarn 'Into the Ashes' burns slowly and fizzles out early," 15 July 2019 His flamboyant uniforms, his nepotistic promotion of his sons and backing from the former regime’s henchmen stir fears of a second Qaddafi. The Economist, "A warlord’s offensive against Tripoli is flagging," 4 July 2019 And even more: that the final break came when the supposedly responsible one engineered an elaborate conspiracy to frame his brother involving a henchman and two corrupt cops. Longreads, "The Top 5 Longreads of the Week," 27 June 2019 Gabby Gabby is guarded by henchmen: ventriloquist’s dummies whose lurching gait suggests that, in a far-off act of vengeance, a gangster doll broke their legs. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, "“Toy Story 4” Plays It Again," 21 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 Get our daily newsletter Tireless as Mr Modi, Mr Shah has for decades been a close henchman and enforcer. The Economist, "What will Narendra Modi do in his new term as India’s prime minister?," 14 June 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

7 Sep 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

henchman

noun

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)

henchman

noun
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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