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

Definition of honcho

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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 There is no head honcho in college football; each of the powerful major conferences governs itself. Laine Higgins And Louise Radnofsky, WSJ, "Colleges and the NFL Are Playing Football, but It’s a Very Different Ballgame," 17 Oct. 2020 Then-New York City Mayor Bloomberg had yet to arrive, and Christie was seething about the city honcho, Paterson recounts. Fox News, "Chris Christie once threatened to sit on Mike Bloomberg, memoir claims," 25 Sep. 2020 McMahon brought on Oliver Luck, a former NCAA honcho, as league commissioner and chief executive officer, and Jeffrey Pollack, previously a flack in the NFL’s marketing department, as president and COO. Kent Russell, Harper's Magazine, "America’s Game," 15 Sep. 2020 TikTok, under ex-Disney honcho Kevin Mayer, already is set up to run as an independent business, so Oracle’s lack of consumer experience doesn’t matter. Adam Lashinsky, Fortune, "Why it makes sense for Oracle to buy TikTok. Sort of.," 25 Aug. 2020 Led by a brusque vigilante with a special vendetta against cocky head honcho Homelander (Antony Starr), the ragtag team of CIA blackops seek to expose the truth about the Supes and end the hero worship once and for all. Ineye Komonibo, refinery29.com, "We Finally Know What To Expect In Season 2 Of The Boys & It’s Gruesome," 8 July 2020 Trey, the head honcho of the faithful, recites the pillars for him. Dalene Rovenstine, EW.com, "The 100 recap: So, this is Bardo," 18 June 2020 Jackie has a curious personal connection to the Geist Group: her complicated relationship with Audrey Temple (Hong Chau), the company's new head honcho. Ineye Komonibo, refinery29.com, "Seasons 1& 2 Of Amazon’s Homecoming Share A Sinister Plot Twist," 26 May 2020 For those of us stuck inside and slumped in our sofas, maybe try a vintage workout video — many now online! — from Cindy Crawford, Cher (?!?!?) and other home exercise honchos from the VHS era. Shira Ovide, New York Times, "Zoom Is Easy. That’s Why It’s Dangerous.," 9 Apr. 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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Time Traveler for honcho

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The first known use of honcho was in 1945

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Last Updated

28 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Honcho.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/honcho. Accessed 28 Oct. 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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Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for honcho

Nglish: Translation of honcho for Spanish Speakers

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