Word of the Day: hang

Word of the Day
August 10, 2016
hang (verb)
/hæŋ/  sound icon
 
Shoes hanging from a wall
To hang means 'to attach something so that it's supported from the top,' 'to attach something to a wall,' or 'to be suspended, dangling.' It also means 'to kill someone by suspending them by the neck with a rope' or, as a reflexive verb, 'to commit suicide' in this same way. It means 'to lean forward' as well and, figuratively, 'to be dependent on something' or 'to be doubtful.' It also means 'to remain or persist,' 'to float over,' and, of a feeling, 'to be a burden.'

 

Example sentences
 
Wendy took off her coat and hung it on the hook.
The museum workers hung the paintings.
There were old copper pans hanging from hooks in the kitchen.
The murderer was sentenced to be hanged.
There were people hanging out of their windows as the procession moved along the street.
Helen's entire future hung on their decision.
Not knowing if I would have a job next month left me hanging.
A mist hung over the valley.

 

Multi-word forms
 
hang around: to spend time in a particular place or with particular people. Example: "There's been a strange man hanging around the bar lately." 
 
hang in there: don't give up or lose hope. Example: "I know you've had a really tough year, but hang in there; things are bound to get better."
 
hang on: literally, to cling hard to something. Example: "The boat is about to hit the rapids, so everyone, hang on!" Figuratively, it means to wait for a brief time. Example: "Hang on, I've forgotten my purse. I'll just run back and get it." It also means 'to persevere.' Example: "I want to quit my job, but I need the money, so I'm trying to hang on for a few more months."
 
hang up: to put the phone down to end a call. Example: "She said 'Bye' and hung up." If you hang up on someone, this means you put the phone down abruptly without finishing the conversation. Example: "As soon as Louis realized the caller was trying to sell him something, he hung up on her." We may not realize it now, but this expression comes from back when telephones had just been invented. They were large and hung on the wall, and people had to physically put the receiver on a hook to end the call.
 
hang out: to spend time together in a casual setting. Example: "Over the weekend I usually hang out with my friends."
 
Additional information
 
When talking about killing a person, the correct past tense and past participle of hang is hanged, whereas for objects it is hung. Nevertheless, you will hear a lot of native speakers use hung for people as well as objects.
 
Did you know?
 
A word associated with hang is hangover, which is the unpleasant after effect of excessive drinking, such as a headache or feeling ill the next day. This is because these effects are still hanging on from the night before. A hangover can also refer to anything that is a persistent effect of something else. For example: "These policies are a hangover from the last governement; we haven't had time to change them yet."
 
Origin
 
Hang dates back to around the year 900, and is really a fusion of three verbs: (1) the Old English and Middle English hōn, meaning 'to hang (something),' and is similar to the Gothic hāhan, origin, originally *haghan; (2) the Old English hangian, which meant 'to hang' and evolved into the Middle English hang(i)en, similar to the German verb hangen; and finally (3), the Middle English henge(n), from the Old Norse hengja (both transitive and intransitive), similar to the German hängen (to hang).
 
 
 
 
 
Hang in other languages
 
 
 
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