Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Word of the Day -- Henchman

So it turns out that, depending on which side of the law (or a situation), a henchman can be either an ally or a nemesis.  I've always thought of it as the latter.  Henchman: a trusted follower : a right-hand man, or a political follower whose support is chiefly for personal advantage; or a member of a gang

The earliest known examples of today's word in written English 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 at the beginning of the 15th century and is a combination of Old English "hengest" ("a male horse") and "man." In the late 1700s, "henchman" began to be used for the personal attendant of a Scottish Highland chief. This sense, made familiar to many English readers by Sir Walter Scott, led to the word's use in the broader sense of "right-hand man," which in turn evolved into the other meanings.

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