hun·​ker ˈhəŋ-kər How to pronounce hunker (audio)
hunkered; hunkering ˈhəŋ-k(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce hunker (audio)

intransitive verb

: crouch, squat
usually used with down
: to settle in or dig in for a sustained period
used with down
hunker down for a good long waitNew Yorker

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web After Ukrainian soldiers tossed several hand grenades into the bunker, the Russian soldiers, including two who were HIV positive, hunkered in a corner. Andrew E. Kramer,, 22 Apr. 2023 But after days hunkered inside their homes, often as battle rages in the streets outside, more Sudanese and foreign nationals have sought to flee the city of five million people. Cora Engelbrecht, New York Times, 19 Apr. 2023 Nashville immediately looked to hunker down and lean on its MLS-leading defense, which has allowed only 2 goals this season. Kyle Foley, Orlando Sentinel, 2 Apr. 2023 Many people use the holiday to hunker down in a cabin, ski, and read crime novels (or watch crime shows on television). Olivia Muenter, Woman's Day, 14 Feb. 2023 Now get ready to hunker down. oregonlive, 21 Dec. 2022 Eddy said he’s gotten lost on Mount Rainier in Washington and has had to hunker down after sunset. David Hernandez, San Diego Union-Tribune, 19 Dec. 2022 The employees locked the doors and encouraged everyone to hunker down, Spellman told her mom. Spellman, 25, has been stuck with a friend in Cusco, Peru, for days since protests erupted in the country after former President Pedro Castillo was ousted from power last week. CNN, 17 Dec. 2022 Winter, in short, gave him pause to hunker down and heave long sighs of contentment now that the heavy lifting of summer had receded to a memory. Robert Klose, The Christian Science Monitor, 22 Nov. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'hunker.' 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 akin to Middle Dutch hucken, huken to squat, Middle Low German hōken to squat, peddle, Old Norse hūka to squat

First Known Use

1720, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of hunker was in 1720

Dictionary Entries Near hunker

Cite this Entry

“Hunker.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


hun·​ker ˈhəŋ-kər How to pronounce hunker (audio)
hunkered; hunkering -k(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce hunker (audio)
: crouch
hunker down under the tent
: to settle in for a long time
hunkering down for the winter

More from Merriam-Webster on hunker

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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