- Obs. a male attendant; page or squire
- a trusted helper or follower
- a political underling who seeks mainly to advance his own interests
- any of the followers of a criminal gang leader
Origin of henchmanMiddle English henxtman, hencheman from Old English hengest, stallion (see Hengist) + -man: origin, originally sense probably “horse attendant”
- A loyal and trusted follower or subordinate, especially one who engages in unscrupulous or criminal behavior on the leader's behalf.
- A person who supports a political figure chiefly out of selfish interests.
- A member of a criminal gang.
- Obsolete A page to a prince or other person of high rank.
Origin of henchmanScots hanchman alteration ( probably influenced by Scots hainch, hench haunch, as of a horse ) of Early Modern English hensman, henchman attendant who walks or rides beside a person of rank in processions on horseback from Middle English hengsman hengest steed, horse ( from Old English) ( from Germanic hangistaz stallion ) (Lithuanian šankus quick, nimble ) ( and Welsh caseg mare ) man man ; see man. (the Middle English compound probably being formed on the model of Old Norse hestama&edh;r groom hestr stallion ma&edh;r man)
From Middle English hencheman, henseman, henxman (“a groom, page, attendant”), from Old English *hengstmann, *hengestmann (“groom”, literally “horseman”), from hengst, hengest (“stallion, horse, steed, gelding”) (from Proto-Germanic *hangistaz (“stallion”), from Proto-Indo-European *ḱanḱest-, *kankest- (“horse”)) + mann (“man”). Cognate with German Hengstmann (“a groom”), Icelandic hestamaður (“horseman, groom”). More at man.