Hunker Down

Posted by Shae on November 16, 2004

In Reply to: Hunker Down posted by DH on November 15, 2004

: : The phrase 'hunker down' seems originally to have been Scottish, maybe the eighteenth century? Does anyone know exactly what its origin is?
: : Old Norse 'huka' means to squat.
: : Modern Dutch 'huiken' and German 'hocken,' meaning to squat or crouch.
: : The word is popular in American English, in phrases like 'hunker down' or 'on your hunkers.'
: : The Oxford English Dictionary description of how to hunker: "squat, with the haunches, knees, and ankles acutely bent, so as to bring the hams near the heels, and throw the whole weight upon the fore part of the feet."
: : 'The advantage of this position is that you're not only crouched close to the ground, so presenting a small target for whatever the universe chooses to throw at you, but you're also ready to move at a moment's notice. Hunker down has also taken on the sense of to hide, hide out, or take shelter, whatever position you choose to do it in. This was a south-western US dialect form that was popularised by President Johnson in the mid 1960s. Despite its Scots ancestry, hunker is rare in standard British English.' (WW)

: Also "To get in the mood and posture for hard work..."--Dict of Am. Slang, H-C--DH

Smiling fondly here because it brings me back to my discovery of this forum. I enquired about the meaning/origin of the term 'Sheela-na-gig' (female exhibitionists) and recieved so much help. I won't bore you with the details, but one interpretation of the term is 'Sheela on her hunkers,' which describes the spreadeagled posture of some of the figures.