See more synonyms for hang on Thesaurus.com
verb (used with object), hung or especially for 4, 5, 20, hanged; hang·ing.
  1. to fasten or attach (a thing) so that it is supported only from above or at a point near its own top; suspend.
  2. to attach or suspend so as to allow free movement: to hang a pendulum.
  3. to place in position or fasten so as to allow easy or ready movement.
  4. to put to death by suspending by the neck from a gallows, gibbet, yardarm, or the like.
  5. to suspend (oneself) by the neck until dead: He hanged himself from a beam in the attic.
  6. to fasten to a cross; crucify.
  7. to furnish or decorate with something suspended: to hang a room with pictures.
  8. to fasten into position; fix at a proper angle: to hang a scythe.
  9. to fasten or attach (wallpaper, pictures, etc.) to a wall: to hang pictures in a room.
  10. to suspend (something) in front of anything: to hang curtains on a window.
  11. Fine Arts.
    1. to exhibit (a painting or group of paintings): The gallery hung his paintings in a small corner.
    2. to put the paintings of (an art exhibition) on the wall of a gallery: They hung the show that morning.
  12. to attach or annex as an addition: to hang a rider on a bill.
  13. to attach (a door or the like) to its frame by means of hinges.
  14. to make (an idea, form, etc.) dependent on a situation, structure, concept, or the like, usually derived from another source: He hung the meaning of his puns on the current political scene.
  15. (of a juror) to keep (a jury) from rendering a verdict by refusing to agree with the others.
  16. Informal. to cause (a nickname, epithet, etc.) to become associated with a person: Friends hung that nickname on him.
  17. Slang. to hit with (a fist, blow, punch, etc.): He hung a left on his opponent's jaw.
  18. Baseball. to throw (a pitch) so that it fails to break, as a curve.
  19. Nautical. to steady (a boat) in one place against a wind or current by thrusting a pole or the like into the bottom under the boat and allowing the wind or current to push the boat side-on against the pole.
  20. (used in mild curses and emphatic expressions, often as a euphemism for damn): I'll be hanged if I do. Hang it all!
verb (used without object), hung or especially for 24, hanged; hang·ing.
  1. to be suspended; dangle.
  2. to swing freely, as on a hinge.
  3. to incline downward, jut out, or lean over or forward: The tree hung over the edge of the lake.
  4. to be suspended by the neck, as from a gallows, and suffer death in this way.
  5. to be crucified.
  6. to be conditioned or contingent; be dependent: His future hangs on the outcome of their discussion.
  7. to be doubtful or undecided; waver or hesitate: He hung between staying and going.
  8. to remain unfinished or undecided; be delayed: Let that matter hang until our next meeting.
  9. to linger, remain, or persist: He hung by her side, unwilling to leave.
  10. to float or hover in the air: Fog hung over the city.
  11. to be oppressive, burdensome, or tedious: guilt that hangs on one's conscience.
  12. to remain in attention or consideration (often followed by on or upon): They hung on his every word.
  13. to fit or drape in graceful lines: That coat hangs well in back.
  14. Fine Arts.
    1. to be exhibited: His works hang in most major museums.
    2. to have one's works on display: Rembrandt hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
  15. Informal. to hang out.
  1. the way in which a thing hangs.
  2. Informal. the precise manner of doing, using, etc., something; knack: to get the hang of a tool.
  3. Informal. meaning or thought: to get the hang of a subject.
  4. Nautical.
    1. loss of way due to adverse wind or current.
    2. a rake, as of a mast.
  5. the least degree of care, concern, etc. (used in mild curses and emphatic expressions as a euphemism for damn): He doesn't give a hang about those things.
Verb Phrases
  1. hang around/about, Informal.
    1. to spend time in a certain place or in certain company: He hangs around with an older crowd.
    2. to linger about; loiter: They had stopped working and were just hanging around to talk.
  2. hang back,
    1. to be reluctant to proceed or move forward: The older pupils went straight to the podium, but the younger ones hung back out of shyness.
    2. to refrain from taking action; hesitate: A forward pass would have been the best call, but the quarterback hung back because his last pass had been intercepted.
  3. hang in, Slang. to persevere: She has managed to hang in despite years of bad luck.Also hang in there.
  4. hang on,
    1. to hold fast; cling to.
    2. to continue with effort; persevere: If you can hang on for a month longer, you will be eligible for the bonus.
    3. to be sustained to the point of danger, tedium, etc.: coughs that hang on for months.
    4. to keep a telephone line open: Hang on, I'll see if she's here.
    5. to wait briefly; keep calm.
  5. hang out,
    1. to lean or be suspended through an opening.
    2. Informal.to frequent a particular place, especially in idling away one's free time: to hang out in a bar.
    3. Informal.to loiter in public places: nothing to do on Saturday night but hang out.
    4. Informal.to consort or appear in public with: Who's she been hanging out with?
    5. Slang.to calm down: Hang out, Mom, I'm OK.
    6. to wait, especially briefly: Hang out a minute while I get my backpack.
    7. to suspend in open view; display: to hang out the flag.
  6. hang over,
    1. to remain to be settled; be postponed: They will probably let the final decision hang over until next year.
    2. to be imminent or foreboding; threaten: Economic ruin hangs over the town.
  7. hang up,
    1. to suspend by placing on a hook, peg, or hanger.
    2. to cause or encounter delay; suspend or slow the progress of: The accident hung up the traffic for several hours.
    3. to break a telephone connection by replacing the receiver on the hook: She received an anonymous call, but the party hung up when she threatened to call the police.
    4. to cause a hang-up or hang-ups in: The experience hung her up for years.
  1. hang a left/right, Slang. to make a left (or right) turn, as while driving an automobile: Hang a right at the next corner.
  2. hang five, to ride a surfboard with the weight of the body forward and the toes of the forward foot curled over the front edge of the surfboard.
  3. hang in the balance, to be in a precarious state or condition: The wounded man's life hung in the balance.
  4. hang it up, Informal. to quit, resign, give up, etc.: The chief engineer is hanging it up after 40 years with the company.
  5. hang loose, Slang. to remain relaxed or calm: Try to hang loose and don't let it bother you.
  6. hang one on, Slang.
    1. to hit: He hung one on the bully and knocked him down.
    2. to become extremely drunk: Every payday he hangs one on.
  7. hang one's head. head(def 66).
  8. hang ten, to ride a surfboard with the weight of the body as far forward as possible and the toes of both feet curled over the front edge of the surfboard.
  9. hang together,
    1. to be loyal to one another; remain united: “We must indeed all hang together, or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”
    2. to cohere: This pancake batter doesn't hang together.
    3. to be logical or consistent: His version of the story does not hang together.
  10. hang tough, Slang. to remain unyielding, stubborn, or inflexible: He's hanging tough and won't change his mind.
  11. let it all hang out, Slang.
    1. to be completely candid in expressing one's feelings, opinions, etc.: She's never been one to let it all hang out.
    2. to act or live without restraint or inhibitions.

Origin of hang

before 900; fusion of 3 verbs: (1) Middle English, Old English hōn to hang (transitive), cognate with Gothic hāhan, orig. *haghan; (2) Middle English hang(i)en, Old English hangian to hang (intransitive), cognate with German hangen; (3) Middle English henge < Old Norse hengja (transitive), cognate with German hängen to hang
Related formshang·a·ble, adjectivehang·a·bil·i·ty, nounre·hang, verb (used with object), re·hung or re·hanged, re·hang·ing.un·der·hang, verb, un·der·hung, un·der·hang·ing.un·hanged, adjective
Can be confusedhang lynch (see synonym study at the current entry)hanged hung (see usage note at the current entry)

Synonym study

4. Hang, lynch have in common the meaning of “to put to death,” but lynching is not always by hanging. Hang, in the sense of execute, is in accordance with a legal sentence, the method of execution being to suspend by the neck until dead. To lynch, however, implies the summary putting to death, by any method, of someone charged with a flagrant offense (though guilt may not have been proved). Lynching is done by private persons, usually a mob, without legal authority. 26. depend, rely, rest, hinge.

Usage note

Hang has two forms for the past tense and past participle, hanged and hung. The historically older form hanged is now used exclusively in the sense of causing or putting to death: He was sentenced to be hanged by the neck until dead. In the sense of legal execution, hung is also quite common and is standard in all types of speech and writing except in legal documents. When legal execution is not meant, hung has become the more frequent form: The prisoner hung himself in his cell.


adjective, loos·er, loos·est.
  1. free or released from fastening or attachment: a loose end.
  2. free from anything that binds or restrains; unfettered: loose cats prowling around in alleyways at night.
  3. uncombined, as a chemical element.
  4. not bound together: to wear one's hair loose.
  5. not put up in a package or other container: loose mushrooms.
  6. available for disposal; unused; unappropriated: loose funds.
  7. lacking in reticence or power of restraint: a loose tongue.
  8. lax, as the bowels.
  9. lacking moral restraint or integrity; notorious for his loose character.
  10. sexually promiscuous or immoral; unchaste.
  11. not firm, taut, or rigid: a loose tooth; a loose rein.
  12. relaxed or limber in nature: He runs with a loose, open stride.
  13. not fitting closely or tightly: a loose sweater.
  14. not close or compact in structure or arrangement; having spaces between the parts; open: a loose weave.
  15. having few restraining factors between associated constituents and allowing ample freedom for independent action: a loose federation of city-states.
  16. not cohering: loose sand.
  17. not strict, exact, or precise: a loose interpretation of the law.
  18. Sports.
    1. having the players on a team positioned at fairly wide intervals, as in a football formation.
    2. (of a ball, hockey puck, etc.) not in the possession of either team; out of player control.
  1. in a loose manner; loosely (usually used in combination): loose-flowing.
verb (used with object), loosed, loos·ing.
  1. to let loose; free from bonds or restraint.
  2. to release, as from constraint, obligation, or penalty.
  3. Chiefly Nautical. to set free from fastening or attachment: to loose a boat from its moorings.
  4. to unfasten, undo, or untie, as a bond, fetter, or knot.
  5. to shoot; discharge; let fly: to loose missiles at the invaders.
  6. to make less tight; slacken or relax.
  7. to render less firmly fixed; lessen an attachment; loosen.
verb (used without object), loosed, loos·ing.
  1. to let go a hold.
  2. to hoist anchor; get under way.
  3. to shoot or let fly an arrow, bullet, etc. (often followed by off): to loose off at a flock of ducks.
  4. Obsolete. to become loose; loosen.
  1. break loose, to free oneself; escape: The convicts broke loose.
  2. cast loose,
    1. to loosen or unfasten, as a ship from a mooring.
    2. to send forth; set adrift or free: He was cast loose at an early age to make his own way in the world.
  3. cut loose,
    1. to release from domination or control.
    2. to become free, independent, etc.
    3. to revel without restraint: After the rodeo they headed into town to cut loose.
  4. hang/stay loose, Slang. to remain relaxed and unperturbed.
  5. let loose,
    1. to free or become free.
    2. to yield; give way: The guardrail let loose and we very nearly plunged over the edge.
  6. on the loose,
    1. free; unconfined, as, especially, an escaped convict or circus animal.
    2. behaving in an unrestrained or dissolute way: a bachelor on the loose.
  7. turn loose, to release or free, as from confinement: The teacher turned the children loose after the class.

Origin of loose

1175–1225; (adj.) Middle English los, loos < Old Norse lauss loose, free, empty; cognate with Old English lēas (see -less), Dutch, German los loose, free; (v.) Middle English leowsen, lousen, derivative of the adj.
Related formsloose·ly, adverbloose·ness, nouno·ver·loose, adjectiveo·ver·loose·ly, adverbo·ver·loose·ness, noun
Can be confusedloose loosen lose loss

Synonyms for loose

See more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com

Antonyms for loose

1. bound. 10. chaste. 25. tighten.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for hang loose


  1. free or released from confinement or restraint
  2. not close, compact, or tight in structure or arrangement
  3. not fitted or fitting closelyloose clothing is cooler
  4. not bundled, packaged, fastened, or put in a containerloose nails
  5. inexact; imprecisea loose translation
  6. (of funds, cash, etc) not allocated or locked away; readily available
    1. (esp of women) promiscuous or easy
    2. (of attitudes, ways of life, etc) immoral or dissolute
  7. lacking a sense of responsibility or proprietyloose talk
    1. (of the bowels) emptying easily, esp excessively; lax
    2. (of a cough) accompanied by phlegm, mucus, etc
  8. (of a dye or dyed article) fading as a result of washing; not fast
  9. informal, mainly US and Canadian very relaxed; easy
  1. the loose rugby the part of play when the forwards close round the ball in a ruck or loose scrumSee scrum
  2. on the loose
    1. free from confinement or restraint
    2. informalon a spree
    1. in a loose manner; loosely
    2. (in combination)loose-fitting
  1. hang loose informal, mainly US to behave in a relaxed, easy fashion
  1. (tr) to set free or release, as from confinement, restraint, or obligation
  2. (tr) to unfasten or untie
  3. to make or become less strict, tight, firmly attached, compact, etc
  4. (when intr, often foll by off) to let fly (a bullet, arrow, or other missile)
Derived Formsloosely, adverblooseness, noun

Word Origin for loose

C13 (in the sense: not bound): from Old Norse lauss free; related to Old English lēas free from, -less


verb hangs, hanging or hung (hʌŋ)
  1. to fasten or be fastened from above, esp by a cord, chain, etc; suspendthe picture hung on the wall; to hang laundry
  2. to place or be placed in position as by a hinge so as to allow free movement around or at the place of suspensionto hang a door
  3. (intr sometimes foll by over) to be suspended or poised; hovera pall of smoke hung over the city
  4. (intr sometimes foll by over) to be imminent; threaten
  5. (intr) to be or remain doubtful or unresolved (esp in the phrase hang in the balance)
  6. (past tense and past participle hanged) to suspend or be suspended by the neck until dead
  7. (tr) to fasten, fix, or attach in position or at an appropriate angleto hang a scythe to its handle
  8. (tr) to decorate, furnish, or cover with something suspended or fastenedto hang a wall with tapestry
  9. (tr) to fasten to or suspend from a wallto hang wallpaper
  10. to exhibit (a picture or pictures) by (a particular painter, printmaker, etc) or (of a picture or a painter, etc) to be exhibited in an art gallery, etc
  11. to fall or droop or allow to fall or droopto hang one's head in shame
  12. (of cloth, clothing, etc) to drape, fall, or flow, esp in a specified mannerher skirt hangs well
  13. (tr) to suspend (game such as pheasant) so that it becomes slightly decomposed and therefore more tender and tasty
  14. (of a jury) to prevent or be prevented from reaching a verdict
  15. (past tense and past participle hanged) slang to damn or be damned: used in mild curses or interjectionsI'll be hanged before I'll go out in that storm
  16. (intr) to pass slowly (esp in the phrase time hangs heavily)
  17. hang fire
    1. to be delayed
    2. to procrastinateSee also fire (def. 16)
  18. hang tough See tough (def. 10)
  1. the way in which something hangs
  2. (usually used with a negative) slang a damnI don't care a hang for what you say
  3. get the hang of informal
    1. to understand the technique of doing something
    2. to perceive the meaning or significance of

Word Origin for hang

Old English hangian; related to Old Norse hanga, Old High German hangēn
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

Word Origin and History for hang loose



early 13c., "not securely fixed;" c.1300, "unbound," from Old Norse lauss "loose, free, vacant, dissolute," cognate with Old English leas "devoid of, false, feigned, incorrect," from Proto-Germanic *lausaz (cf. Danish løs "loose, untied," Swedish lös "loose, movable, detached," Middle Dutch, German los "loose, free," Gothic laus "empty, vain"), from PIE *leu- "to loosen, divide, cut apart" (see lose). Meaning "not clinging, slack" is mid-15c. Meaning "not bundled" is late 15c. Sense of "unchaste, immoral" is recorded from late 15c. Meaning "at liberty, free from obligation" is 1550s. Sense of "rambling, disconnected" is from 1680s. Figurative sense of loose cannon was in use by 1896, probably from celebrated image in a popular story by Hugo:

You can reason with a bull dog, astonish a bull, fascinate a boa, frighten a tiger, soften a lion; no resource with such a monster as a loose cannon. You cannot kill it, it is dead; and at the same time it lives. It lives with a sinister life which comes from the infinite. It is moved by the ship, which is moved by the sea, which is moved by the wind. This exterminator is a plaything. [Victor Hugo, "Ninety Three"]

Loose end in reference to something unfinished, undecided, unguarded is from 1540s; to be at loose ends is from 1807. Phrase on the loose "free, unrestrained" is from 1749 (upon the loose).



a fusion of Old English hon "suspend" (transitive, class VII strong verb; past tense heng, past participle hangen), and Old English hangian (weak, intransitive, past tense hangode) "be suspended;" also probably influenced by Old Norse hengja "suspend," and hanga "be suspended." All from Proto-Germanic *khang- (cf. Old Frisian hangia, Dutch hangen, German hängen), from PIE *kank- "to hang" (cf. Gothic hahan, Hittite gang- "to hang," Sanskrit sankate "wavers," Latin cunctari "to delay;" see also second element in Stonehenge). As a method of execution, in late Old English (but originally specifically of crucifixion).

Hung emerged as past participle 16c. in northern England dialect, and hanged endured only in legal language (which tends to be conservative) and metaphors extended from it (I'll be hanged). Teen slang sense of "spend time" first recorded 1951; hang around "idle, loiter" is from 1830, and hang out (v.) is from 1811. Hang fire (1781) was originally used of guns that were slow in communicating the fire through the vent to the charge. To let it all hang out "be relaxed and uninhibited" is from 1967.



late 15c., "a sling," from hang (v.). Meaning "a curtain" is from c.1500; that of "the way cloth hangs" is from 1797. To get the hang of (something) "become capable" is from 1834, American English. Perhaps originally in reference to a certain tool or feat, but, if so, its origin has been forgotten. It doesn't seem to have been originally associated with drapery or any other special use of hang.

'To get the hang of a thing,' is to get the knack, or habitual facility of doing it well. A low expression frequently heard among us. In the Craven Dialect of England is the word hank, a habit; from which this word hang may perhaps be derived. [John Russell Bartlett, "Dictionary of Americanisms," New York, 1848]



early 13c, "to set free," from loose (adj.). Meaning "to undo, untie, unfasten" is 14c. Related: Loosed; loosing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with hang loose

hang loose

Relax, take it easy, as in Just hang loose and it will all work out. [Slang; mid-1900s]


In addition to the idioms beginning with loose

  • loose cannon
  • loose ends

also see:

  • at loose ends
  • break loose
  • cast loose
  • cut loose
  • footloose and fancy-free
  • hang loose
  • have a screw loose
  • on the loose
  • play fast and loose
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.