What Does “Hunker Down” Mean, and How to Use this Idiom?

Last Updated on January 9, 2021

If you have ever heard someone use the term ‘hunker down’ during a conversation, you may well have asked yourself what this phrase means. We are going to look at the meaning behind this term and how it can be used in our daily conversations. We will also look at where the term came from in the first instance.

Hunker Down

Hunker Down Meaning

When someone uses the term ‘hunker down’ they are referring to getting oneself into a safe place and safe conditions. It is often used when talking about the weather and ensuring that you are safe indoors.

Origin of this idiom

The term ‘hunker down’ originally meant to literally get down into a squatting position, the term has roots in various languages such as German, Dutch and old Scottish. Over time the term has evolved to be used for the meaning we give it today.

“Hunker Down” Examples

Examples in Statements

This is a statement made by a weather reporter.

  • ‘The winds are not set to get any lighter. The advise is to hunker down and wait out the storm.’

Here is a statement made by a man to his wife.

  • ‘I think that it is best that we just hunker down for the night and then reassess the conditions tomorrow.’

Other examples:

  • They are not allowed to hunker down to rest after running 5,000 meters.
  • I have to hunker down to finish my algebra this evening.
  • Their strategy for the moment is to hunker down and let the fuss die down.

Conversation Examples

You may be curious as to how the term ‘hunker down’ can be applied to a conversation. Here are some examples to show how the phrase would work.

This first conversation is happening between two neighbours before a hurricane.

  • Person 1: “I think we are going to drive up to my wife’s parents house, they are out of the hurricane zone.”
  • Person 2: “I don’t think we will be leaving, we will just hunker down and hope for the best.”

This next conversation is between a boyfriend and his girlfriend.

  • Person 1: “It is meant to snow very heavily this next few weeks.”
  • Person 2: “What do you want to do about it? Do you want to go on holiday in the sun and get away from the cold?”
  • Person 1: “No, I think we should just hunker down here and stay in front of the fire.”

Other Ways to Say the Phrase

There are other ways in which you can express the meaning of the term ‘hunker down.’

Here are some examples of other wordings which carry the same meaning.

  • Snuggle in
  • Bunker down
  • Hide behind
  • Take refuge
  • Take cover

Hunker Down Meaning | Image

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