I'm looking for a word that illustrates this particular action. Like, you know how you kind of hunch your shoulder to avoid the cold in winter. Especially if you are wearing a scarf and you just maybe shrink(?) more into it to avoid as much wind as possible. I don't really know how else to describe it, but I think we all do it unconsciously at some points.

I try to search words that I think may be correct but none of them even sound appropriate and right.

  • 4
    hunch or hunch up is a good word for what an individual does. If it's two or more people, they might huddle together. You might also say shield/shelter oneself. Commented Jan 23, 2022 at 6:50
  • 2
    What you already said sounds right: "shrink into oneself" is often used. "She shrunk into herself to avoid the cold." Commented Jan 23, 2022 at 8:32
  • @filistinist: In principle it "should" be she shrank into herself anyway, but in practice I suspect the usage is more likely to be far more metaphorical (she was avoiding social / emotional interactions, rather than literal cold). Commented Jan 23, 2022 at 13:06
  • 1
    I'd probably say "brace oneself against the cold", although that doesn't specifically refer to shoulders or any other body part. Commented Jan 24, 2022 at 4:25
  • One might use "cringe", though it's more often used to show embarrassment or fear. Commented Jan 24, 2022 at 22:40

2 Answers 2


You already described it well - the person hunched their shoulders, shrunk into themselves, bowed their head, tightened their body, and braced themselves gingerly against the cold.

There is probably no specific verb for “tensing the body in the face of exposure to the cold” but you can describe it in physical and mental terms, which you did.

  • +1 but I don't agree with "gingerly"
    – gotube
    Commented Mar 18, 2022 at 5:33

The first word I thought of was huddled:

1a : to gather in a close-packed group.
They huddled around the campfire.
b : to curl up : CROUCH.
Students huddled over their desks.

An example from a travel article in Tatler

Stockholm in winter: a cold wind whips around the streets, cajoling people huddled in coats to move briskly along the broad pavements.

And here is an image described as "man huddled outside cold"

man outside in a coat and hat with his hands in his pockets and his shoulders hunched

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