hunker down

to hide away


to hunker down [hide out] = sich versteckt halten; an einem Ort Unterschlupf finden —— to hunker down = sich hinhocken, in die Hocke gehen



“When SARS hit China in 2003, citizens HUNKERED DOWN. This proved a blessing for some businesses. Chinese social media took off. So did e-commerce. Richard Liu, who ran a chain of consumer-electronics shops, shut all his brick-and-mortar stores and set up JD dot com. The firm is now valued at $64bn.”

The Economist — Business Section (5th March 2020)

Did you

hunker down
phrasal verb

- to hide, hide out, or take shelter, often for just a few hours or less, as from a pursuer or a storm

- to make yourself comfortable in a place or situation, or to prepare to stay in a place or position for a long time, usually in order to achieve something or for protection

- to lower the body to the ground by bending the legs

Dictionary dot Com / Cambridge Dictionary / Merriam-Webster


The verb “hunker” meaning “to squat, crouch”, appeared in 1720 in Scotland and is of uncertain origin, possibly a nasalized borrowing of a Scandinavian Old Norse word huka “to crouch”, or hoka, hokra “to crawl”.

“Hunker down”, originally a Southern U.S. dialectal phrase, has been popular since the mid 1960s.


Washington wrote of his perilous crossing of the icy Delaware River in his diary—hunkered down in a boat with his hastily gathered troops and equipment and trying desperately to avoid dangerous flows of river ice. It was in the early hours of December 26th, 1776 and conditions were freezing, dark, and stormy.

However, when artist Emanuel Leutze painted his iconic “Washington Crossing the Delaware”—in 1851—he was in Germany. Because he used a neighbouring river as the model for the Delaware, Leutze’s famous historical work would more accurately described as “Washington Crossing the Rhine”… in broad daylight!


- to conceal oneself

find refuge, go into hiding, go to earth, go to ground, go underground, hide oneself, hide out, hole up, HUNKER DOWN, keep a low profile, keep cover, keep hidden, keep out of sight, lie doggo, lie in wait, lie low, secrete oneself, seek refuge, seek sanctuary, sit tight, stay hidden, take cover, take refuge, take shelter, wait in the shadows

SMUGGLE OWAD into an English conversation, discuss:

What if an artist who knew enough about George Washington HUNKERED DOWN with his men in the freezing cold darkness were to paint a more accurate picture? The historian/artist Paul Lussier has actually painted such a scene. You can view his depiction, together with that of Emanuel Leutze at:

Just drop me a short line and let me know what you think!

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Paul Smith

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