Slang: hench

Recently I've come across the current youth slang word 'hench'. It's an adjective meaning 'well-built' or 'muscular' (used to describe men only!). Sadly I haven't been able to find much about the origins of the word except for a few suggestions on the web that that it derives from "black English". Can anyone help here?

Much more rarely, I've also come across 'hench' used to mean 'mate', but I think this is a more recent development. A colleague suggested that 'hench' may be related to 'henchman', meaning "a faithful follower or political supporter, especially one prepared to engage in dishonest practices" (OED).

I'm not convinced by that argument - although it is interesting that 'henchman' is from Old English 'hengest', or male horse, plus 'man' (obviously), and may originally have meant 'horse attendant'.

If I were to choose someone to look after my horse, I'd probably pick someone who was a) well-built and b) a mate, so maybe there is a connection after all...


Anonymous said...

The definition of hench, as I know it, is a 3/4 pound burger with a fried egg in it.

Alex said...

Hench means tall/big to the british youth today.

but another lighter meaning is an extreamly talented cannabis smoker.

ana said...

I live in worthing, a large town close to brighton in the south coast of england. Our town has a habit of somehow collecting new 'young slang' that everyone i know consequently starts using. the slang always, is brought down from london of course and as people hear it everyone eventually uses it in common sentences. this particular word, 'hench' has been around for a few months now and i know it to mean cool, hip and amazing. i have no idea what the origins are for this word but i do not that it defenitely has a link with the meaning 'mate'. When someone hears something interesting or astounding or cool here nowadays, a lot of people's responses are "mate.." meaning 'wow thats really cool. im not sure how we managed to get down to just 'mate'. but anyhow the word hench means exactly the same as what the word 'mate' means around here. therefore this makes me think they could be linked in some way. just a thought.

Anonymous said...

I have a friend who has been knick named 'Hench' for quite some time now. His name is Gareth Rise and he is indeed hench. Much like a 3/4 pound burger with an egg in it.

The word hench has been around for at least 4-5 years to my knowledge. I remember its introduction well and two instances stick in my mind:

1. The Lord of the Rings; The fellowship of the ring - 'This film is hench' - Pidyn.

2. A rather large baguette purchased from 'Le Sandwich' opposite Jewson in Farnborough. It had many a rasher of bacon in it. Therefore it was hench.

Mike Elworthy is not hench... he's a beater! (Another great new use of the English language).

Anonymous said...

hi, im "the youth of today"
hench is used to descirbe something as big, tough, or in general something you wont pick a fight with, e.g. that bear is quite hench
or its used just randomly with oooohhh and quite before it
used completely out of context when something that appears funny occurs

Don said...

yes or you can use it like "I'm not carryin that knapsack, it's f*%&in hench"

No said...

Could not this use of "HENCH" meaning "big, bulky" come from "HENCHMAN" or servant to a superior, i.e. usually a gang leader or illicit type of person?

Such men are prized for strength, size, intimidation, &ct, "hench-up" like a big bad guy or bodyguard.

Anonymous said...

hench is short for henchman meaning a right hand man or someone who is physicaly imposing

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I have heard it used recently by my young upstart of a colleague in reference to another member of staff:

"That Chris Kell looks pretty hench."

To be honest I think he fancies him.

melanie said...

i am familiar withthe word hench my brothers friends call him hench this is due to his surname being hencher

Anonymous said...

Just to break it down the following actors would be considered hench:

Tom Hardy, idris Alba and any of the main characters from the movie 300.

it doesn't mean that they are cool it just means that they are built like brick s@#t house and you wouldn't want them to pay you a visit to collect a debt.