Hunker down is a literal phrase that has taken on a figurative meaning, which makes it an idiom. We will examine the meaning of the idiom hunker down, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.
Hunker down may mean to take shelter. For instance, one may hunker down in one’s house during inclement weather. Hunker down may also mean a mental effort to settle in for the long haul. One may hunker down into one’s work if it is going to take unrelenting, slow effort to get something done. Hunker down implies endurance. The word hunker is Scottish, used from the early 1700s to mean to squat on the balls of one’s feet, ready to spring into action. The idiom hunker down is traced to the America South, originating sometime around the turn of the twentieth century. Related phrases are hunkers down, hunkered down, hunkering down.
“We need to hunker down, keep everybody as healthy as we can, and get through this.” (The Evening Observer)
Release of the latest 15-day plan for slowing the spread of the virus came as state and local government officials pleaded with the Trump administration to mount a coordinated response to the pandemic, as millions of workers and students were already hunkering down at home. (Reuters)
However, Mercatante said it may also come down to the sacrifices local residents are willing to make to “hunker down,” avoiding large gatherings, distant travel and non-essential events. (The Port Huron Times-Herald)