verb (used without object)

to have a restless or incessant longing (often followed by after, for, or an infinitive).

Origin of hanker

1595–1605; < early Dutch dialect hankeren (cognate with Dutch hunkeren), frequentative of hangen to hang
Related formshan·ker·er, noun

Synonyms for hanker

See yearn.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for hanker

yearn, crave, itch, yen, wish, covet, hunger, pine, lust, long, want, sigh, ache, thirst

Examples from the Web for hanker

Historical Examples of hanker

  • There's days when I feel uneasy every minute and hanker for a deck underneath me.

    Cy Whittaker's Place

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • I was too busy to hanker for a stump speech, so I cut across his bows.

    The Depot Master

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • Here, by Godfreys, they don't give us no time to hanker for nothin'.

    Galusha the Magnificent

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • If you hanker to go to Boston, go you shall, and no thanks to me.


    Louis Joseph Vance

  • Trivial might some say who hanker after giantesque composition.

    Adventures in the Arts

    Marsden Hartley

British Dictionary definitions for hanker



(foll by for, after, or an infinitive) to have a yearning (for something or to do something)
Derived Formshankering, noun

Word Origin for hanker

C17: probably from Dutch dialect hankeren
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

Word Origin and History for hanker

c.1600, of unknown origin, probably from Flemish hankeren, related to Dutch hunkeren "to hanker," of unknown origin; perhaps an intensive of Middle Dutch hangen "to hang" (see hang (v.)). If so, the notion is of "lingering about" with longing or craving. Related: Hankered; hankering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper