Word Origin & History
1360, hengestman "high-ranking servant," originally "groom," from man + O.E. hengest "horse, stallion, gelding," from P.Gmc. *khangistas (cf. O.Fris. hengst, Du. hengest, Ger. Hengst "stallion"), probably lit. "best at springing," from PIE *kenku- (cf. Gk. kekiein "to gush forth;" Lith. sokti "to jump,
dance;" Breton kazek "a mare," lit. "that which belongs to a stallion"). Became obsolete, but retained in Scottish as "personal attendant of a Highland chief," in which sense Scott revived it in literary Eng. in 1810. Sense of "obedient or unscrupulous follower" is first recorded 1839, probably based on a misunderstanding of the word as used by Scott.