- to squat on one's heels (often followed by down).
- to hunch: The driver hunkered over the steering wheel.
- to hide, hide out, or take shelter (usually followed by down): The escaped convicts hunkered down in a cave in the mountains.
- 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,
- British Informal.squatting on one's heels.
- suffering a period of poverty, bad luck, or the like.
Origin of hunker
- (intr often foll by down) to squat; crouch
Word Origin and History for hunker down
"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.