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 head honcho at KKW Beauty has been using makeup since the '90s, but for the last decade or so, her fame has all but demanded the employment of a makeup artist — more often than not, the talented Mario Dedivanovic. Marci Robin, Allure, "Kim Kardashian West Did Her Own Makeup, and Even Her Beauty Team Is Impressed," 4 Sep. 2019 Here are a few examples: Yet another hard-charging team owner, Braves honcho Ted Turner, is often credited with MLB's most famous use of nickNOBs. Paul Lukas, SI.com, "The History of Nicknames on Jerseys in Baseball, Before MLB Players' Weekend," 23 Aug. 2019 The cast also includes Lance Arthur Smith as Sun Records honcho Sam Phillips, Katie Sapper as Elvis’ singing gal pal Dianne, Brian Dall as drummer Fluke and Mackenzie Leighton as bassist Brother Jay Perkins. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Lamb’s Players Theatre puts its money on Vista production of ‘Million Dollar Quartet’," 10 July 2019 However, 2015-16 proved to be a turning point for this ex-Wipro and Accenture corporate honcho. Sangeeta Tanwar, Quartz India, "Meet the mentor of startups working with differently-abled people," 10 June 2019 But what does the White Walkers' head honcho want anyway? Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Night King Has a Target to Kill in Game of Thrones Season 8," 7 Mar. 2019 Kris Jenner, head honcho of the Kardashian-Jenner club, is a busy woman and the mom of six superstars. Maya Allen, Marie Claire, "Kris Jenner With Her New Textured Lob Is a Lewk We've Never Seen Before," 27 Feb. 2019 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 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

21 Sep 2019

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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

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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miscellaneous remnants or debris

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