[hang-er-on, -awn]

noun, plural hang·ers-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

Synonyms for hanger-on

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

Examples from the Web for hanger-on

Historical Examples of hanger-on

  • 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

British Dictionary definitions for hanger-on


noun plural 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