- an unscrupulous and ruthless subordinate, especially a criminal: The leader of the gang went everywhere accompanied by his henchmen.
- an unscrupulous supporter or adherent of a political figure or cause, especially one motivated by the hope of personal gain: Hitler and his henchmen.
- a trusted attendant, supporter, or follower.
- Obsolete. a squire or page.
Origin of henchman
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for henchman
That has the Journal newsroom worrying they could end up working for a controversial Rupert henchman.Succession Drama at WSJ
July 16, 2011
En route, Tron encounters the MCP's henchman, Sark, and the two battle it out cyberstyle.Catch Up on Tron: Watch 6 Key Moments
December 16, 2010
“He was always in the political equation,” Nixon henchman Chuck Colson once told me.How Kennedy Brought Down Nixon
September 13, 2009
A henchman attended, carried the carven cup in hand, served the clear mead.
No henchman he worthied by weapons, if witness his features, his peerless presence!
At sight of them, I swung round and gripped my henchman by the shoulder.Bardelys the Magnificent
"Wh-h—" stuttered the henchman, and then almost snatched it from Tim's hand.Sonnie-Boy's People
James B. Connolly
For his tone was that of the great man addressing his henchman.The Plum Tree
David Graham Phillips
- a faithful attendant or supporter
- archaic a squire; page
Word Origin and History for henchman
mid-14c., hengestman, later henshman (mid-15c.) "high-ranking servant (usually of gentle birth), attendant upon a king, nobleman, etc.," originally "groom," probably from man (n.) + Old English hengest "horse, stallion, gelding," from Proto-Germanic *hangistas (cf. Old Frisian hengst, Dutch hengest, German Hengst "stallion"), perhaps literally "best at springing," from PIE *kenku- (cf. Greek kekiein "to gush forth;" Lithuanian sokti "to jump, dance;" Breton kazek "a mare," literally "that which belongs to a stallion").
Perhaps modeled on Old Norse compound hesta-maðr "horse-boy, groom." The word became obsolete in England but was retained in Scottish as "personal attendant of a Highland chief," in which sense Scott revived it in literary English from 1810. Sense of "obedient or unscrupulous follower" is first recorded 1839, probably based on a misunderstanding of the word as used by Scott.