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What does the term "hatchet man" mean?

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Quick Answer

The term “hatchet man” usually refers to a person who has been given the responsibility for carrying out an unpleasant, disagreeable or controversial task for a superior, such as firing someone or a group of people. It can also refer to someone who is critical of another.

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Full Answer

The origins of the term stem from its use during the 19th century as a figurative reference to a hired Chinese assassin. In contemporary usage, it generally refers to a speaker or writer who criticizes or denounces someone in the political arena or their policies, and who engages in this act on his own behalf, or on that of another person or organization.

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