[hang-on, -awn]Informal.


something easily attached to or mounted on another surface or object, as a turbocharger or transceiver in an automobile, a unit suspendable from shelving, or a portable soap dish.


pertaining to or denoting such an attachment: A clumsy hang-on unit supplied the air conditioning.

Nearby words

  1. hang up,
  2. hang with,
  3. hang, hanged,
  4. hang-dog,
  5. hang-glider,
  6. hang-up,
  7. hangar,
  8. hangbird,
  9. hangchow,
  10. hangdog

Origin of hang-on

noun, adj. use of verb phrase hang on



verb (used with object), hung or especially for 4, 5, 20, hanged; hang·ing.

to fasten or attach (a thing) so that it is supported only from above or at a point near its own top; suspend.
to attach or suspend so as to allow free movement: to hang a pendulum.
to place in position or fasten so as to allow easy or ready movement.
to put to death by suspending by the neck from a gallows, gibbet, yardarm, or the like.
to suspend (oneself) by the neck until dead: He hanged himself from a beam in the attic.
to fasten to a cross; crucify.
to furnish or decorate with something suspended: to hang a room with pictures.
to fasten into position; fix at a proper angle: to hang a scythe.
to fasten or attach (wallpaper, pictures, etc.) to a wall: to hang pictures in a room.
to suspend (something) in front of anything: to hang curtains on a window.
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.
to attach or annex as an addition: to hang a rider on a bill.
to attach (a door or the like) to its frame by means of hinges.
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.
(of a juror) to keep (a jury) from rendering a verdict by refusing to agree with the others.
Informal. to cause (a nickname, epithet, etc.) to become associated with a person: Friends hung that nickname on him.
Slang. to hit with (a fist, blow, punch, etc.): He hung a left on his opponent's jaw.
Baseball. to throw (a pitch) so that it fails to break, as a curve.
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.
(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.

to be suspended; dangle.
to swing freely, as on a hinge.
to incline downward, jut out, or lean over or forward: The tree hung over the edge of the lake.
to be suspended by the neck, as from a gallows, and suffer death in this way.
to be crucified.
to be conditioned or contingent; be dependent: His future hangs on the outcome of their discussion.
to be doubtful or undecided; waver or hesitate: He hung between staying and going.
to remain unfinished or undecided; be delayed: Let that matter hang until our next meeting.
to linger, remain, or persist: He hung by her side, unwilling to leave.
to float or hover in the air: Fog hung over the city.
to be oppressive, burdensome, or tedious: guilt that hangs on one's conscience.
to remain in attention or consideration (often followed by on or upon): They hung on his every word.
to fit or drape in graceful lines: That coat hangs well in back.
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.
Informal. to hang out.


the way in which a thing hangs.
Informal. the precise manner of doing, using, etc., something; knack: to get the hang of a tool.
Informal. meaning or thought: to get the hang of a subject.
  1. loss of way due to adverse wind or current.
  2. a rake, as of a mast.
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

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.
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.
hang in, Slang. to persevere: She has managed to hang in despite years of bad luck.Also hang in there.
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.
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.
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.
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.

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 forms
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.

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for hang on

hang on

verb (intr)

(adverb) to continue or persist in an activity, esp with effort or difficultyhang on at your present job until you can get another
(adverb) to cling, grasp, or holdshe hangs on to her mother's arm
(preposition) to be conditioned or contingent on; depend oneverything hangs on this business deal
Also: hang onto, hang upon (preposition) to listen attentively toshe hung on his every word
(adverb) informal to wait or remainhang on for a few minutes


verb hangs, hanging or hung (hʌŋ)

to fasten or be fastened from above, esp by a cord, chain, etc; suspendthe picture hung on the wall; to hang laundry
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
(intr sometimes foll by over) to be suspended or poised; hovera pall of smoke hung over the city
(intr sometimes foll by over) to be imminent; threaten
(intr) to be or remain doubtful or unresolved (esp in the phrase hang in the balance)
(past tense and past participle hanged) to suspend or be suspended by the neck until dead
(tr) to fasten, fix, or attach in position or at an appropriate angleto hang a scythe to its handle
(tr) to decorate, furnish, or cover with something suspended or fastenedto hang a wall with tapestry
(tr) to fasten to or suspend from a wallto hang wallpaper
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
to fall or droop or allow to fall or droopto hang one's head in shame
(of cloth, clothing, etc) to drape, fall, or flow, esp in a specified mannerher skirt hangs well
(tr) to suspend (game such as pheasant) so that it becomes slightly decomposed and therefore more tender and tasty
(of a jury) to prevent or be prevented from reaching a verdict
(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
(intr) to pass slowly (esp in the phrase time hangs heavily)
hang fire
  1. to be delayed
  2. to procrastinateSee also fire (def. 16)
hang tough See tough (def. 10)


the way in which something hangs
(usually used with a negative) slang a damnI don't care a hang for what you say
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 on
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with hang on

hang on


hang on to. Cling tightly to something, retain, as in Hang on to those papers before they blow away. [Mid-1800s] Also see hang on to your hat.


Continue persistently, persevere, as in This cough is hanging on much longer than I expected, or He was hanging on, hoping business would improve when interest rates went down. This usage was sometimes embellished to hang on by one's eyelashes or eyebrows or eyelids, meaning “to persist at any cost.” [Second half of 1800s]


Keep a telephone connection open, as in Please hang on, I'll see if he's in. [First half of 1900s]


Wait for a short time, be patient, as in Hang on, I'm getting it as fast as I can. [First half of 1900s]


Depend on, as in Our plans hang on their decision about the new park. [Colloquial; second half of 1900s]


Blame on, as in They'll try to hang that robbery on the same gang, but I don't think they'll succeed. [Colloquial; first half of 1900s]


hang one on. Get very drunk, as in Come on, let's go and hang one on. [Slang; mid-1900s] Also see the subsequent idioms beginning with hang on.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.