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 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 The compliance officer can hardly call in a SWAT team and destroy the company because the head honcho is having extramarital affairs. Kyle Smith, National Review, "Finally, a Harvey Weinstein Movie," 25 Jan. 2020 That underperformance didn’t trouble Marvel Studios honcho Kevin Feige, who has already announced that the X-Men will be part of his Marvel universe thanks to Disney’s acquisition of Fox. David Sims, The Atlantic, "Martin Scorsese’s Warning," 11 Nov. 2019 Wieland, who took the reins in August, was not the Massport honcho who pushed through a controversial decision to centralize ride-hail operations that would force passengers to walk a little farther at the airport. BostonGlobe.com, "controversial decision to centralize ride-hail operations," 12 Dec. 2019 Ocean’s rhymes ride beautifully over the tranquil production while the A$AP Mob head honcho laments about fame swallowing up his life and fervently trying to find room to breathe and enjoy his loved ones. Andreas Hale, Billboard, "A$AP Rocky Returns With 'Testing,' His Most Experimental Album to Date," 25 May 2018 Madison Companies honcho Gordon did not return email or phone messages Tuesday. San Diego Union-Tribune, "KAABOO sold to Virgin Fest as original owners exit," 18 Sep. 2019 The Lambkins are in their first year under coach Matt Yemm, while the Sabercats also debut a new head honcho, Jeff Fulton. Kyle Newman, The Denver Post, "The top Colorado prep football games to watch each week of the 2019 season," 28 Aug. 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

23 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Honcho.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/honcho. Accessed 24 Feb. 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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