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from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • intransitive v. To squat close to the ground; crouch. Usually used with down: hunkered down to avoid the icy wind.
  • intransitive v. To take shelter, settle in, or hide out. Usually used with down: hunkered down in the cabin during the blizzard.
  • intransitive v. To hold stubbornly to a position. Usually used with down: "As the White House hunkered down, G.O.P. congressional unity started crumbling” ( Time).
  • n. The haunches.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To crouch or squat close to the ground.
  • n. A political conservative.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Originally, a nickname for a member of the conservative section of the Democratic party in New York; hence, one opposed to progress in general; a fogy.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To stoop with the body resting upon the calves of the legs; squat.
  • n. In American politics, a conservative; one who opposes innovation or change; a fogy: first applied in the State of New York as a name to the conservative section of the Democratic party who opposed the Barnburners or radical section, about 1845. Also used adjectively.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. sit on one's heels


Perhaps of Scandinavian origin; akin to Old Norse hokra, to crouch.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Originally Scottish. Origin unknown, but probably of Germanic origin, perhaps *hunk- or *huk-. Probable cognates include Old Norse húka, Dutch huiken, and German hocken. (Wiktionary)
Unknown (Wiktionary)



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  • JM squats down and applies himself assiduously to defining the good word 'hunker'

    February 1, 2009

  • One of Lizzie's favourites.

    January 2, 2007