hon·​cho | \ ˈhän-(ˌ)chō How to pronounce honcho (audio) \
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 The Tesla honcho is a master at risking the ridiculous to change the world. Shawn Tully, Fortune, "What Elon Musk can learn from the 3 other business tycoons who have hosted SNL," 7 May 2021 This former Harvard president and finance honcho in the Clinton and Obama administrations noted that a family of four making $1,000 a week would bring home $22,000 in the first six months after taxes. Arkansas Online, "The comprehensive challenge to America," 3 Apr. 2021 The windfall easily makes Kim, 42, the third-richest person in South Korea, ahead of Jay Y. Lee, vice chair of Samsung Electronics and Mong-koo Chung, head honcho of the Hyundai empire. Grace Chung, Forbes, "Coupang’s Blockbuster IPO Pushes Founder’s Fortune Up To $11 Billion," 11 Mar. 2021 His net worth is $180 billion, with the Amazon honcho adding nearly $6 billion Tuesday. Jordan Valinsky, CNN, "Elon Musk made $25 billion Tuesday," 10 Mar. 2021 Arista honcho Clive Davis was a fan but refused to put out any of their music because of their name, and the group fizzled out prematurely during the Great Punk Boom of ’77. Kory Grow, Rolling Stone, "Music at Home: 15 Great Punk Songs by Black Artists," 26 Feb. 2021 Scooter Braun has been approached by former TikTok CEO and Disney honcho Kevin Mayer to acquire Braun's company, Ithaca Holdings, though a source tells Billboard talks haven’t progressed beyond that initial overture. Chris Eggertsen, Billboard, "Scooter Braun's Ithaca Holdings Targeted for Acquisition by Former TikTok CEO," 16 Feb. 2021 In real life, her lover Hearst broke off her deal with MGM, in a huff over head honcho Mayer not giving her more serious dramatic roles. Shannon Carlin, refinery29.com, "The Real Stories Behind Mank Are Stranger Than Fiction," 7 Dec. 2020 In a scene full of repartee with real-life figures such as the actor Marion Davies, the film honcho Louis B. Mayer, and the mogul William Randolph Hearst, the visual details of the environment might seem unimportant. David Sims, The Atlantic, "The People Who Can See Inside David Fincher’s Head," 9 Dec. 2020

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

14 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Honcho.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/honcho. Accessed 18 May. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of honcho

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

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Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for honcho

Nglish: Translation of honcho for Spanish Speakers

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