View synonyms for hunker



[ huhng-ker ]

verb (used without object)

  1. to crouch or squat on one's heels:

    He hunkered to be at eye level with his dog.

    I can’t hunker with this bad knee.

    1. to hunch:

      The driver hunkered over the steering wheel.

    2. to hide, hide out, or take shelter, often for just a few hours or less, as from a pursuer or a storm:

      The escaped convicts hunkered in a cave in the mountains.

    3. to settle in to the safety of one’s home or other designated shelter for a potentially prolonged time, as would be necessitated by a natural disaster or an outbreak of a contagious disease:

      Many local residents hunkered in the basement of the fire station.

  2. Slang. to lumber along; walk or move slowly or aimlessly:

    A small black bear was seen hunkering through the neighborhood.


  1. hunkers, one's haunches.

verb phrase



[ huhng-ker ]


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


/ ˈhʌŋkə /


  1. introften foll bydown 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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Other Words From

  • Hunker·ism noun
  • Hunker·ous adjective
  • Hunker·ous·ness noun
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Word History and Origins

Origin of hunker1

First recorded in 1710–20; apparently hunk (perhaps nasalized variant of huck “haunch”; akin to Old Norse hūka “to crouch”) + -er 6

Origin of hunker2

An Americanism dating back to 1835–45; origin uncertain
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Idioms and Phrases

  1. on one's hunkers,
    1. British Informal. squatting on one's heels.
    2. suffering a period of poverty, bad luck, or the like.
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Example Sentences

When I finally hunker down in a pub on the harbor, Google raises as many questions as it answers.

When life gets traumatic do you prefer to hunker down and grieve in private, or open up to others?

“The news is slanting in different directions,” Tom complains as he and Vickie hunker down in a bar.

Administrations almost always hunker down in these situations and hope they pass.

But I had to hunker down and do my job, live shot after live shot.

It had been the settled understanding that one Hunker and one radical should be taken for the State delegates.

The difficulty was at length solved by our passing our favorite men and assenting to elect Mr. Seymour and another Hunker.

"Might as well hunker down right here on the ground," Jed said.

One of the newcomers was from Hunker Creek, and he brought news of the doctor and the captain.

Thus, "honker" or "hunker" meant one who "stayed put," and was opposed to progress.


Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.




hunkhunker down