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From Middle English haunche, hanche, from Old French hanche, hance, anche (compare French hanche, Italian anca), from a Germanic source, probably Frankish *hanka, from Proto-Germanic *ankō (joint; ankle), from Proto-Indo-European *ang- (joint; lith). Cognate with Old High German ancha, encha, einka (the leg; joint, bend) (compare Old High German anchila, enchila (ankle), German Hanke (haunch), West Frisian hancke (haunch). More at ankle.



haunch (plural haunches)

  1. (anatomy) The area encompassing the upper thigh, hip and buttocks on one side of a human, primate, or quadruped animal, especially one that can sit on its hindquarters.
  2. The loin and leg of a quadruped, especially when used as food.
  3. (architecture) A squat vertical support structure.


1735 18?? 1855 1894 1916 1918
ME « 15th c. 16th c. 17th c. 18th c. 19th c. 20th c. 21st c.
  • 1726 October 28, [Jonathan Swift], chapter II, in Gulliver’s Travels, volume II, London: Printed for Benj[amin] Motte, OCLC 995220039, part IV:
    But I had no time to pursue these reflections; for the gray horse came to the door, and made me a sign to follow him into the third room where I saw a very comely mare, together with a colt and foal, sitting on their haunches upon mats of straw, not unartfully made, and perfectly neat and clean.
  • 18??John Greenleaf Whittier, The Garrison of Cape Ann
    On the rough-hewn oaken table the venison haunch was shared.
  • 1855Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Song of Hiawatha, III
    And the rabbit from his path-way
    Leaped aside, and at a distance
    Sat erect upon his haunches.
  • 1894Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Book
    Now these are the Laws of the Jungle,
    and many and mighty are they;
    But the head and the hoof of the Law
    and the haunch and the hump is – Obey!
  • 1916Wilfred Owen, The Wrestlers
    While Heracles, - the thews and cordage of his thighs
    Straitened and strained beyond the utmost stretch
    From quivering heel to haunch like sweating hawsers.
  • c.1918Carl Sandburg, Fog
    The fog comes on little cat feet.
    It sits looking over harbor and city
    on silent haunches and then moves on.


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