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Assibilated variant of hunk, of uncertain origin.

Alternatively, a derivative of hump, via an earlier Middle English *hunche, *humpchin, from *hump +‎ -chin, -chen (diminutive suffix), equivalent to hump +‎ -kin. In the sense of an intuitive impression, said to be from the old gambling superstition that it brings luck to touch the hump of a hunchback.


  • IPA(key): /hʌnt͡ʃ/, /hʌnʃ/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ʌntʃ


hunch (plural hunches)

  1. A hump; a protuberance.
  2. A stooped or curled posture; a slouch.
    The old man walked with a hunch.
  3. A theory, idea, or guess; an intuitive impression that something will happen.
    I have a hunch they'll find a way to solve the problem.
  4. A hunk; a lump; a thick piece.
    a hunch of bread
  5. A push or thrust, as with the elbow.


Derived terms[edit]



hunch (third-person singular simple present hunches, present participle hunching, simple past and past participle hunched)

  1. (intransitive) To bend the top of one's body forward while raising one's shoulders.
    Synonyms: slouch, stoop, lean
    Don't hunch over your computer if you want to avoid neck problems.
  2. (transitive) To raise (one's shoulders) (while lowering one's head or bending the top of one's body forward); to curve (one's body) forward (sometimes followed by up).
    They stood outside the door hunching themselves against the rain and puffing on their cigarettes.
    He hunched up his shoulders and stared down at the ground.
    • 1672, Edward Ravenscroft, The Citizen Turn’d Gentleman[3], London: Thomas Dring, act I, scene 1, page 4:
      Danc[ing] Mast[er]. [] not too fast [] keep you[r] leg[s] straight, [] don’t hunch up your shoulders so;
    • 1924, Ford Madox Ford, Some Do Not ...[4], New York: Grosset & Dunlap, Part 2, Chapter 2:
      If you hunch your shoulders too long against a storm your shoulders will grow bowed....
    • 1938, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, New York: Scribner, Chapter 17,[5]
      He would hunch his twisted body close and put out his gentle and crooked hand and touch the fawn.
    • 1939, John Steinbeck, chapter 10, in The Grapes of Wrath[6], New York: Viking, published 1958, page 142:
      They sat looking out at the dark, at the square of light the kitchen lantern threw on the ground outside the door, with a hunched shadow of Grampa in the middle of it.
  3. (intransitive) To walk (somewhere) while hunching one's shoulders.
    Synonym: slouch
    • 1955, J. P. Donleavy, chapter 2, in The Ginger Man[7], New York: Dell, page 9:
      [] the figure hunched up the road.
    • 1969, Ray Bradbury, “The Inspired Chicken Motel”, in I Sing the Body Electric[8], New York: Knopf, page 57:
      [] once we had hunched in out of the sun and slunk through a cold pork-and-beans-on-bread lunch [] my brother and I found a desert creek nearby and heaved rocks at each other to cool off.
    • 1983, Jack Vance, Suldrun’s Garden, Spatterlight Press, 2012, Chapter 18,[9]
      [] wheezing and grunting he hunched across the room.
  4. (transitive) To thrust a hump or protuberance out of (something); to crook, as the back.
    • 1679, John Dryden, Nathaniel Lee, Oedipus[10], London: R. Bentley and M. Magnes, act I, page 6:
      [] thou art all one errour; soul and body.
      The first young tryal of some unskill’d Pow’r;
      Rude in the making Art, and Ape of Jove.
      Thy crooked mind within hunch’d out thy back;
      And wander’d in thy limbs:
  5. (transitive) To push or jostle with the elbow; to push or thrust against (someone).
    Synonyms: elbow, nudge
    • 1667, “The Sixth Vision of Hell”, in Roger L’Estrange, transl., The Visions of Dom Francisco de Quevedo Villegas[11], London: H. Herringman, pages 182–183:
      After this, we saw a great Troop of Women upon the High-way to Hell, with their Bags; and their fellows, at their Heels, ever, and anon, hunching, and Justling one Another.
    • 1748, Samuel Richardson, Clarissa[12], London, Volume 2, Letter 1, p. 8:
      Hickman, a great over-grown, lank-hair’d, chubby boy, who would be hunch’d and punch’d by every-body; and go home, with his finger in his eye, and tell his mother.
    • 1899, Sutton E. Griggs, chapter 6, in Imperium in Imperio[13]:
      He let his eyes scan the faces of all the white teachers, male and female, but would end up with a stare at the colored man sitting there. Finally, he hunched his seat-mate with his elbow and asked what man that was.
    • 1974, Maya Angelou, chapter 12, in Gather Together in My Name[14], New York: Bantam, published 1975, page 40:
      She hunched me and winked.
    • 1986, Billy Roche, chapter 6, in Tumbling Down[15], Dublin: Wolfhound Press, published 1994, pages 102–103:
      [] Crunch burst through, pretending to be in Croke Park or somewhere, hunching me away with his shoulder and holding the ghost of other players at bay as he picked up the football.
  6. (intransitive, colloquial) To have a hunch, or make an intuitive guess.
    • 2010, Max Gunther, The Luck Factor:
      People who are instinctive hunchers go through some such process at every decision-making point of their lives. It is likely that children often make decisions and discern truths by hunching.

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Derived terms[edit]