Word of the Day – Henchman

Word of the Day : March 22, 2022


noun HENCH-mun

What It Means

henchman is a trusted follower who may perform unpleasant, wrong, or illegal tasks for a powerful person (such as a politician or criminal).

// The play opens with the main character, a gangster, onstage surrounded by his henchmen.

See the entry >

HENCHMAN in Context

“However resourceful Batman is, Riddler actually drives the story…. As clues pile up, more and more of Gotham’s power players get drawn into that web, with the Penguin (an unrecognizable Colin Farrell), the top henchman to mob boss Falcone (John Turturro), adding to the Rogues Gallery of villains.” — Brian Lowry, CNN, 28 Feb, 2022

Did You Know?

The earliest known examples of henchman 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 and is a combination of Old English hengest (“a male horse”) and man. One of the duties of a groom, squire, or page to a person of high rank was tending horses, and such a person was relied upon, which influenced the broader senses of henchman including “right-hand man.”