henchman

[hench-muhn]
See more synonyms for henchman on Thesaurus.com
noun, plural hench·men.
  1. an unscrupulous and ruthless subordinate, especially a criminal: The leader of the gang went everywhere accompanied by his henchmen.
  2. an unscrupulous supporter or adherent of a political figure or cause, especially one motivated by the hope of personal gain: Hitler and his henchmen.
  3. a trusted attendant, supporter, or follower.
  4. Obsolete. a squire or page.

Origin of henchman

1325–75; Middle English henchman, henshman, henksman, hengestman, Old English hengest stallion (cognate with German Hengst) + man man1
Related formshench·man·ship, noun

Synonyms for henchman

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018


Examples from the Web for henchman

Contemporary Examples of henchman

  • That has the Journal newsroom worrying they could end up working for a controversial Rupert henchman.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Succession Drama at WSJ

    Nick Summers

    July 16, 2011

  • En route, Tron encounters the MCP's henchman, Sark, and the two battle it out cyberstyle.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Catch Up on Tron: Watch 6 Key Moments

    Alex Berg

    December 16, 2010

  • “He was always in the political equation,” Nixon henchman Chuck Colson once told me.

    The Daily Beast logo
    How Kennedy Brought Down Nixon

    Chris Matthews

    September 13, 2009

Historical Examples of henchman

  • No henchman he worthied by weapons, if witness his features, his peerless presence!

    Beowulf

    Anonymous

  • A henchman attended, carried the carven cup in hand, served the clear mead.

    Beowulf

    Anonymous

  • At sight of them, I swung round and gripped my henchman by the shoulder.

  • "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


British Dictionary definitions for henchman

henchman

noun plural -men
  1. a faithful attendant or supporter
  2. archaic a squire; page

Word Origin for henchman

C14: hengestman, from Old English hengest stallion + man; related to Old Norse hestr horse, Old High German hengist gelding
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for henchman
n.

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper