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 While analysts may be hankering after hints from Fed Chairman Jerome Powell on his next move, Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan is looking elsewhere to gauge the economic temperature. Eleanor Pringle, Fortune, 17 Apr. 2024 Gray is too preoccupied to notice that his wife, Rose (Paula Malcomson), and daughter, Mac (Arica Himmel), are still hurting as well and might be hankering to leave the city behind. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 29 Mar. 2024 Americans were stuck at home, hankering for more space — and had the extra cash to buy their first homes or upgrade to larger ones. Abha Bhattarai, Washington Post, 16 Mar. 2024 Gad is approaching that hankering for new things with humor and heart, and in a way that finds middle ground for kids and their parents and guardians. Carly Tagen-Dye, Peoplemag, 27 Mar. 2024 Southeast Asian ministers aren’t the only ones to be hankering after a piece of the billion-dollar tour. Eleanor Pringle, Fortune, 5 Mar. 2024 Dungy and Rush explicitly critique patriarchal patterns in the literary canon of nature writing, a genre long dominated by solitary white men of privilege hankering for escape or reverie in the wild. Emily Raboteau, The New York Review of Books, 1 Nov. 2020 Has there been a classic Sondheim role he’s been hankering to do? Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times, 11 Dec. 2023 Maybe so, judging by New Yorkers’ sudden hankering to come together to craft. Arden Fanning Andrews, Vogue, 7 Dec. 2023

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 26 May. 2024.

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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