Definition of hunker in US English:



[no object]
  • 1Squat or crouch down low.

    ‘he hunkered down beside her’
    • ‘I hunkered lower down in my seat and tried to pretend that I couldn't speak English.’
    • ‘I stay hunkered behind the teacher's desk, next to an open window.’
    • ‘The stench of sulfur filled the air as I dragged myself across the scree and hunkered behind a dark boulder.’
    • ‘She hunkers down slightly further away, hugging her legs with both arms and asking brightly: ‘What were you going to say to Sharon?’’
    • ‘The publicity man hunkers down on the grass to steady her round the ankles while she grips her 253-year-old violin.’
    1. 1.1 Hunch; bend.
      ‘burly workers hunkered over the menu of the day’
      • ‘Flash forward three years, and she is hunkering down over coffee to talk about her life and the theatre, once again.’
      • ‘He straightened and then hunkered over again and again, as if shocks of pain were shooting up his spine.’
      • ‘The obsessive artist spent hours hunkered over his mortar and pestle, grinding, grinding, mixing.’
      • ‘As they spend more time hunkered over their computers, they neglect family, friends and jobs.’
      • ‘The sight of them sitting next to one another, hunkered over the book as they finished the sentence, struck a deep feeling in him, though exactly what he couldn't identify.’
      • ‘She stopped in surprise, as she stared at Alex, hunkered over in the corner.’
      • ‘I spent my summer vacation at computer camp, hunkered over a keyboard programming an adventure game.’
      • ‘Deadly wrecks litter the roadside; we passed a large truck on its side, steel pipes scattered like matchsticks, the driver hunkered over, grimacing with pain.’
      • ‘A red headed boy with fine hair askew hunkered over me.’
      • ‘One cold day, I hunkered over some on a park bench.’
    2. 1.2US Take shelter in a defensive position.
      ‘the best way to deal with your father is to hunker down and let it blow over’
      • ‘But after the storm's deadly loop through the Caribbean, people from Miami to St. Augustine are boarding up and hunkering down yet again.’
      • ‘We had air raids in school where we had to hunker under our desks or squat down in the hallway with our heads tucked between our legs.’
      • ‘And those who aren't are stocking up, digging in, and hunkering down ahead of the second major hurricane to threaten the U.S. in less than a month.’
      • ‘But it was not until several days later, when our hosts at dinner regaled us with their account of hunkering down in a howling gale to avoid being blown off the mountain, that we realised how fortunate we had been to enjoy it.’
      • ‘We hunkered against the shore as a mini tornado flattened the water and whipped the trees into crazed dance patterns.’
  • 2hunker downApply oneself seriously to a task.

    ‘students hunkered down to prepare for the examinations’
    • ‘They have been hunkering down and they've reached a decision.’
    • ‘She hunkers down and keeps going, tough and diligent.’
    • ‘I am hunkering down for the next three weeks as I need to make my deadline.’
    • ‘The precious dialogue is sometimes muffled, so that I had to back up a few times and hunker down for serious lip reading.’
    • ‘If you are ready to hunker down and get serious, this one's not worth it.’
    • ‘And I'm hunkering down on a book proposal about funky crafts to wow my favorite book publisher - Chronicle Books.’
    • ‘He had a BA in philosophy, so he found work as a fry cook before hunkering down to adjudicate applications at the Passport Office for twenty-five years.’
    • ‘The image once of the lone engineer hunkered down working on a solution to a problem no longer applies.’
    • ‘Some people won't want to wait for the pieces to fall in place, but it's worth hunkering down for the pay-off.’
    • ‘I then hunkered down and got real serious, knowing I was going to have to fly the best instrument approach of my life.’
    squat, squat down, duck, duck down, hunker down, bob down, hunch over
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Early 18th century: probably related to Dutch huiken and German hocken.