- 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
No henchman he worthied by weapons, if witness his features, his peerless presence!
A henchman attended, carried the carven cup in hand, served the clear mead.
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.