One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
In feudal Japan: a military retainer or samurai in the service of a shogun.
Early 18th century; earliest use found in John Scheuchzer (1702–1729), physician and naturalist. From Japanese hatamoto retainer of a shogun or daimyo, specific use of hatamoto one of the officers defending the flag in battle from hata flag, banner + moto base.
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