han·​ker ˈhaŋ-kər How to pronounce hanker (audio)
hankered; hankering ˈhaŋ-k(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce hanker (audio)

intransitive verb

: to have a strong or persistent desire : yearn
often used with for or after
hankerer noun
Choose the Right Synonym for hanker

long, yearn, hanker, pine, hunger, thirst mean to have a strong desire for something.

long implies a wishing with one's whole heart and often a striving to attain.

longed for some rest

yearn suggests an eager, restless, or painful longing.

yearned for a stage career

hanker suggests the uneasy promptings of unsatisfied appetite or desire.

always hankering for money

pine implies a languishing or a fruitless longing for what is impossible.

pined for a lost love

hunger and thirst imply an insistent or impatient craving or a compelling need.

hungered for a business of his own
thirsted for power

Examples of hanker in a Sentence

By the middle of the winter, they were hankering for a warm day.
Recent Examples on the Web Perhaps viewers are hankering for shows tinged with escapism and warmth this summer, to counteract all those heavy news cycles. Matthew Gilbert, BostonGlobe.com, 1 Sep. 2023 People still hanker to go out at night, so the challenge for night mayors is to make their cities safer and more inviting destinations. Stephen Humphries, The Christian Science Monitor, 10 Aug. 2023 Celebrating Pride can bring on some hankering hunger. Steven Vargas, Los Angeles Times, 14 June 2023 Amazon was looking for veterans to launch small package-delivery businesses, and Ervin was clocking the midnight shift and hankering for a change. WIRED, 13 June 2023 While the Season 4 finale neatly wraps up Devi's story, some viewers are still hankering for a deep dive into the stories of Devi's friends and family. Chelsey Sanchez, Harper's BAZAAR, 8 June 2023 Sam Clemmett’s been hankering to be a part of the Bridgerton world. Adam Rathe, Town & Country, 8 May 2023 But owner Joe Milano said it should be approved within the next few days, in time to spread out his patio for customers hankering for crab cakes and calamari on the upcoming 60-degree Saturday. Diti Kohli, BostonGlobe.com, 1 May 2023 The party is split between a zealous base still devoted to Trump and those hankering for a less controversial challenger in the form of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. oregonlive, 4 Mar. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'hanker.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


probably from Dutch dialect hankeren

First Known Use

1627, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of hanker was in 1627

Dictionary Entries Near hanker

Cite this Entry

“Hanker.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hanker. Accessed 29 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


han·​ker ˈhaŋ-kər How to pronounce hanker (audio)
hankered; hankering -k(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce hanker (audio)
: to have an eager or continual desire
hanker after fame
hankerer noun
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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