hon·​cho | \ ˈhän-(ˌ)chō \
plural honchos

Definition of honcho 

: boss, big shot also : hotshot

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Did You Know?

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

Jumping forward many years, O’Reilly tells us about convening a small summit of tech honchos, which quite literally named open source software. Rob Reid, Ars Technica, "Ars on your lunch break: Tim O‘Reilly discusses the birth of “open source”," 1 Aug. 2018 That ’03 Red Sox bullpen coughed up his first opener as head honcho, and Epstein took the loss hard. Paul Sullivan, chicagotribune.com, "Cubs take care of business, make more opening day memories," 29 Mar. 2018 The Tod’s honcho is not unlike Moncler’s Remo Ruffini in his thinking. Nicole Phelps, Vogue, "Tod’s Makes Alessandro Dell’Acqua Its First Tod’s Factory Collaborator," 25 Sep. 2018 Rubell’s business partner and fellow Studio honcho, Ian Schrager, was nowhere to be found (perhaps by choice?) along with their third silent partner, investor Jack Dushey. Julia Felsenthal, Vogue, "Matt Tyrnauer’s New Documentary, Studio 54, Takes On the Rise, Fall, and Last Days of Disco," 4 Oct. 2018 Enter David Marcus, the former head honcho at Facebook Messenger — and a former founder who sold his most recent startup to PayPal — who’s currently running the Facebook’s new blockchain division. Kurt Wagner, Recode, "Facebook’s reputation as a good place for founders is suddenly under attack," 26 Sep. 2018 DJs for the afternoon include Jump Up! Records honcho Chuck Wren, Smoking Popes guitarist Eli Caterer, and Metal Shop DJ Nick Fury. Leor Galil, Chicago Reader, "Music / Do This Record Store Day 2018: here's what shops are doing to celebrate in the Chicago area," 17 Apr. 2018 Untitled Document With less than ten episodes of Oprah to go, the queen of daytime paid a visit to runway honcho Ralph Lauren at his Colorado ranch yesterday. Leah Konen, ELLE Decor, "What We're Reading: May 19, 2011," 19 May 2011 When the cast starts with him and Haddish, then adds Cedric the Entertainer as the obnoxious honcho of Tray’s halfway house and Allen Maldonado as Tray’s enthusiastic and dim cousin Bobby, the show is going to be funny. Michael Ordona, latimes.com, "Tracy Morgan 'went through hell' and came back with an unusual comedy in 'The Last O.G.'," 30 May 2018

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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Statistics for honcho

Last Updated

28 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for honcho

The first known use of honcho was in 1945

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English Language Learners Definition of honcho

: 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

Comments on honcho

What made you want to look up honcho? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a person who helps groups work together

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