One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1historical A mounted groom or other attendant; a military servant or batman, responsible especially for the supervision of supplies and horses; = "after-rider". Now historical.
2In extended use: a person filling a subordinate position and thereby reinforcing the position of another in authority; a henchman or lackey.
Early 19th century; earliest use found in William Burchell (1781–1863), explorer and naturalist. From South African Dutch achterrijder (1st half of the 19th cent. or earlier; Afrikaans agterryer from Dutch achter + rijder, perhaps after voorrijder postilion.
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