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I've come across it in the eighth episode of the first episode of Rick and Morty. Here is the context:

Announcer (on TV): Mrs. Sullivan always planned to leave everything to her cats. But sometimes, plans need a helping paw. What are the kitties to do, but buckle together and work as a team.

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Buckle can be used as an intransitive verb, meaning to start a job or task with vigour and determination, usually followed by 'down', e.g. I had to finish my homework by 9 PM so I buckled down and wrote quickly. The use of 'together' is unusual but understandable. The kittens needed to work hard together as a team.

Buckle

intransitive verb

2: to apply oneself with vigor — usually used with down

buckle down to the job

Buckle (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

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  • Yes, down is just missing in his text.
    – Lambie
    Feb 12 at 14:52
  • @Lambie - M-W says "usually" followed by 'down'; to a modern ear "the kittens buckled together" suggests that they attached themselves to each other with belts fastened with buckles. However 16th century (approx) usage allows 'buckle together' to mean 'join (battle)', and the 1535 Coverdale Bible renders 1 Maccabees ch 4 v 14 as 'They buckled together, and the Heithen were discomfited.' where the 1611 King James version has 'So they joined battle, and the heathen being discomfited fled into the plain.' I can see the kittens figuratively joining battle to get the task done together. Feb 12 at 15:25
  • I am saying that down must be there. Why not agree? The script writers overlooked it or the person typing it overlooked it. It just sounds really funny and not contemporary.
    – Lambie
    Feb 12 at 15:29
  • I agree, but (possibly misplaced) scrupulosity requires noting that 'buckle together' used to mean 'join together in a fight'. maybe the scriptwriter was a Bible scholar. Feb 12 at 15:31
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I think of belts when I see the phrase buckle together. If I don’t buckle up, my trousers will fall down. So, buckle together is to act in unison lest such a calamity like dropping ones trousers occurs.

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