1 : a trusted follower : right-hand man
2 : a political follower whose support is chiefly for personal advantage
3 : a member of a gang
Did You Know?
The earliest known examples of today's word in written English show it being used as a term for a squire or a page, but the word may have seen earlier use with the meaning "groom." It first appeared in Middle English in the 14th century and is a combination of Old English hengest ("a male horse") and man. In the mid-1700s, henchman began to be used for the personal attendant of a Scottish Highland chief. This sense, made familiar to many English readers by Sir Walter Scott, led to the word's use in the broader sense of "right-hand man," which in turn evolved into the other meanings.
"The story follows the lives to two very different characters—Frank Guidry, a henchman for one of New Orleans' most powerful and vicious gangsters, and Charlotte, a woman struggling to raise her two daughters while dealing with a feckless, drunken husband." — James D. Watts Jr., The Tulsa (Oklahoma) World, 11 Oct. 2018
"Since Mr. Mugabe's ouster, Mr. Mnangagwa has tried to remake Zimbabwe's image by portraying the government as business-friendly. He has appeared often at investors' conferences, wearing warm, colorful scarves to offset his fearsome reputation as Mr. Mugabe's former henchman." — Norimitsu Onishi, The New York Times, 30 July 2018
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Name That Synonym
Unscramble the letters to create a synonym of henchman that can also mean "ruler": PSARAT.VIEW THE ANSWER
Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP