See more synonyms for hunker on
verb (used without object)
  1. to squat on one's heels (often followed by down).
  2. Informal.
    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.
  3. Slang. to lumber along; walk or move slowly or aimlessly.
  1. hunkers, one's haunches.
  1. 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


  1. a member of the conservative faction in the Democratic Party in New York State, 1845–48.

Origin of Hunker

An Americanism dating back to 1835–45; origin uncertain
Related formsHun·ker·ism, nounHun·ker·ous, adjectiveHun·ker·ous·ness, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for hunker

huddle, squat, hunch, cower, wince, grovel, bow, stoop, bend, duck, quail, dip, kneel, quat

Examples from the Web for hunker

Contemporary Examples of hunker

Historical Examples of hunker

  • They had struck it rich on a property they had bought on Hunker.

    The Trail of '98

    Robert W. Service

  • Hunker reported that they had discovered no trace of the missing man.

    Frank Merriwell's Son

    Burt L. Standish

  • "I was going over to Hunker Creek myself," concluded Wodley.

    To Alaska for Gold

    Edward Stratemeyer

  • There was a political meeting (Hunker) at the capitol, but I pass'd it by.

  • The silver-gray whig shakes hands with the hunker democrat; the former only differing from the latter in name.

    My Bondage and My Freedom

    Frederick Douglass

British Dictionary definitions for hunker


  1. (intr 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

Word Origin and History for hunker

"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