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[huhng-ker] /ˈhʌŋ kər/
verb (used without object)
to squat on one's heels (often followed by down).
  1. to hunch:
    The driver hunkered over the steering wheel.
  2. to hide, hide out, or take shelter (usually followed by down):
    The escaped convicts hunkered down in a cave in the mountains.
  3. to hold resolutely or stubbornly to a policy, opinion, etc., when confronted by criticism, opposition, or unfavorable circumstances (usually followed by down):
    Though all the evidence was against him, he hunkered down and refused to admit his guilt.
Slang. to lumber along; walk or move slowly or aimlessly.
hunkers, one's haunches.
on one's hunkers,
  1. British Informal. squatting on one's heels.
  2. suffering a period of poverty, bad luck, or the like.
Origin of hunker
1710-20; apparently hunk (perhaps nasalized variant of huck haunch; akin to Old Norse hūka to crouch) + -er6 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for hunkering
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Do you remember how the child you once were sat in the brae, spinning the peerie, and hunkering at I-dree I-dree I droppit-it?

  • God made man to stand erect on his two feet, but you would be for ever hunkering like a monkey eatin' nuts.

    Patsy S. R. Crockett
  • Then she came round, and, 'hunkering' down beside us, opened her book and in a low voice began to read.

    Betty Grier Joseph Waugh
  • Shann reached the next room in line, hunkering down to see within it.

    Storm Over Warlock Andre Norton
British Dictionary definitions for hunkering


(intransitive) often foll by down. to squat; crouch
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for hunkering



"to squat, crouch," 1720, Scottish, of uncertain origin, possibly from a Scandinavian source, cf. Old Norse huka "to crouch," hoka, hokra "to crawl." Hunker down, Southern U.S. dialectal phrase, popularized c.1965, from northern British hunker "haunch." Related: Hunkered; hunkering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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