hon·​cho | \ ˈhän-(ˌ)chō How to pronounce honcho (audio) \
plural honchos

Definition of honcho

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A relic of the large US presence in Japan in the years following World War II, the word honcho comes from the Japanese word hanchō meaning “leader of the squad, section, group.” We are uncertain of the exact route by which honcho found its way into American military argot in the mid-1950s, though it is known that the Japanese applied hanchō to British or Australian officers in charge of work parties in prisoner-of-war camps. By the 1960s, the word had become part of colloquial American jargon.

Examples of honcho in a Sentence

the office was all abuzz because some honchos from corporate headquarters were coming for a visit he's definitely the head honcho in that company
Recent Examples on the Web Honorary co-chair Colin Ryan, a Goldman Sachs honcho, received the Corporate Philanthropy Award. Catherine Bigelow, SFChronicle.com, "Irish eyes still smiling with SF parade on pause; benefits canceled by coronavirus," 13 Mar. 2020 Mixing droll gags with acerbic satire, Mr. Fradon skewered plutocrats, hucksters, crass politicians, corporate honchos and a sensationalist media. Harrison Smith, Washington Post, "Dana Fradon, prolific New Yorker cartoonist with a satirical edge, dies at 97," 18 Oct. 2019 Shaken to their senses by their own journalists, the Post’s honchos reinstated Sonmez on Tuesday. Kevin Cullen, BostonGlobe.com, "In these dark days, a pair of journalists shine a light," 30 Jan. 2020 For years, actress Annabella Sciorra felt powerless against Harvey Weinstein, keeping to all but a few friends the allegation that the once-revered Hollywood honcho pinned her to a bed and raped her in the early 1990s. Michael R. Sisak, Fortune, "Harvey Weinstein set to face his accusers for the first time," 23 Jan. 2020 Warmly welcomed onto the Bay Area scene by Jazz Mafia honcho Adam Theis, who recommended him for multiple gigs, Johnson knows exactly what Perna is up against. Andrew Gilbert, SFChronicle.com, "Antibalas doubles down on a Bay Area strategy for its Afrobeat," 7 Feb. 2020 Richard Plepler, the former head honcho of HBO, is on his way to Apple TV+. Angela Watercutter, Wired, "The Marvel Cinematic Universe Will Have a Trans Character ‘Very Soon’," 2 Jan. 2020 Jill Pavlak is co-head honcho of Urban Growler Brewing. Bruce Corrie And Jill Pavlak, Twin Cities, "Corrie, Pavlak: Join us to craft a new brew for the Midtown area of St. Paul," 19 Dec. 2019 If running Google weren’t responsibility enough, its head honcho now has another massive job on his platter: helming Alphabet’s entire business. Ananya Bhattacharya, Quartz India, "Besides the proverbial torch, Google founders are passing a laundry list of troubles to Sundar Pichai," 4 Dec. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'honcho.' 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 honcho

1945, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for honcho

Japanese hanchō squad leader, from han squad + chō head, chief

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Time Traveler for honcho

Time Traveler

The first known use of honcho was in 1945

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Last Updated

17 May 2020

Cite this Entry

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

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More Definitions for honcho


How to pronounce honcho (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of honcho

chiefly US, informal : a person who is in charge of other people

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More from Merriam-Webster on honcho

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for honcho

Spanish Central: Translation of honcho

Nglish: Translation of honcho for Spanish Speakers

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