honcho v.

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Tue Oct 4 16:46:25 UTC 2011

Good 1944 find,  Victor.

Time magazine ran a similar story about Saipan in its issue for Oct. 30,
1944 [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,801486,00.html] :Each
rickety hut (called a "han") shelters several families totaling 20 to 55
persons. U.S. authorities deal with each group through the "hancho," or

U.S. Army and Marine Corps troops fought on Saipan in the summer of 1944.
The island soon became a strategic base for B-29 bombers used against Japan.
Of course naval forces were also involved in supply operations after the

So "honcho" was presumably adopted by some members of all the services at
that time.  (The word was still very rare in writings post-war writings
about the Pacific.)   I've also seen it used in modern western novels: it
must be Spanish because it rhymes with "Pancho,"

Saipan was significant in this case because Americans on the island  had to
supervise several thousand Japanese-speaking civilians for the first time in
the war.


On Tue, Oct 4, 2011 at 11:52 AM, Victor Steinbok <aardvark66 at gmail.com>wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Victor Steinbok <aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: honcho v.
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> JSB: Well, that was careless of me at 5 AM. Worse yet, I missed it after
> several passes.
> JL: the AS 1955 definition blames it on pilots who were stationed in
> Japan. Are there any printed materials?
> I do have an antedating, however, for the noun. And it's a full view!
> http://goo.gl/miaJ8
> LIFE. Nov 6, 1944
> Japanes Civilians on Saipan: Americans Can't Help From Helping People in
> Trouble. [photo caption]. p. 47
> > At communal bathing center men and women bathe together, in keeping
> > with Japanese custom. People in camp do everything in groups. They
> > have a passion for organization. Unit within camp is the /han/ and its
> > leader is called /hancho/.
> There have been three different suggestion as to the origin. One picked
> out US POWs in Japanese camps. Another--Japanese POWs in US camps. The
> third identifies the pilots stationed in Japan. It now appears all three
> were in play.
> VS-)
> On 10/4/2011 9:18 AM, Joel S. Berson wrote:
> > Victor, I think you missed in the OED under
> > "honcho, n." -- "Hence as v. trans., to oversee; to be in charge of."
> >
> > Admittedly, the heading "honcho, n." seems a bit limited.
> >
> > Joel
> >
> > At 10/4/2011 04:45 AM, Victor Steinbok wrote:
> >> Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit
> >>
> >> In fact, the third OED quotation has a verb, not a noun:
> >>
> >>> 1964 Sat. Rev. (U.S.) 10 Oct. 82/2   Jack Bullock, who honchoes the
> >>> CuraƧao casino.
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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