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[hang-er-on, -awn] /ˈhæŋ ərˈɒn, -ˈɔn/
noun, plural hangers-on.
a person who remains in a place or attaches himself or herself to a group, another person, etc., although not wanted, especially in the hope or expectation of personal gain.
Origin of hanger-on
1540-50; noun use of verb phrase hang on; see -er1
toady, parasite, sycophant, follower. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for hanger-on
Historical Examples
  • He ceased for a time at least to be a gentleman to become a hanger-on, a parasite once more.

    Albert Durer T. Sturge Moore
  • From Venice he wrote: "I am a gentleman here, but only a hanger-on at home."

    Albert Durer T. Sturge Moore
  • “Yes, I feel that I am only a hanger-on to mother since we reached France,” he confessed.

    The Bondwoman Marah Ellis Ryan
  • She was kind of a hanger-on, Cornelia was, you see, and she was used to going where she was sent.

    Odd Numbers

    Sewell Ford
  • The whole gang of hanger-on chiefs is perpetually loaded to the guards.

    A Son Of The Sun Jack London
  • He seemed to think that I should be content to become a hanger-on of some fine gentleman.

    A Nest of Linnets Frank Frankfort Moore
  • But Borrow was never a hanger-on of British society, and we never saw him.

    Hawthorne and His Circle Julian Hawthorne
  • By some of his expressions I judged he was a hanger-on of courts.

    St. Ives Robert Louis Stevenson
  • You were a leader amongst the best of them, and I was a hanger-on amongst the worst.

    Berenice E. Phillips Oppenheim
  • The Oracle is humble enough before the hanger-on of the turf.

    Three Elephant Power Andrew Barton 'Banjo' Paterson
British Dictionary definitions for hanger-on


noun (pl) hangers-on
a sycophantic follower or dependant, esp one hoping for personal gain
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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