Origin of hanging

1250–1300; Middle English (noun, adj.), Old English hangande (adj.) See hang, -ing1, -ing2
Related formshang·ing·ly, adverbun·hang·ing, adjective



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

Examples from the Web for hanging

British Dictionary definitions for hanging



  1. the putting of a person to death by suspending the body by the neck from a noose
  2. (as modifier)a hanging offence
(often plural) a decorative textile such as a tapestry or drapery hung on a wall or over a window
the act of a person or thing that hangs


not supported from below; suspended
undecided; still under discussion
inclining or projecting downwards; overhanging
situated on a steep slope or in a high place
(prenominal) given to issuing harsh sentences, esp death sentencesa hanging judge
Northern English informal unpleasant
chess See hanging pawn


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 hanging

"act of putting to death on the gallows," c.1300 (see hang). Hanging judge first recorded 1848. Meaning "piece of drapery on the wall of a room" is late 15c. Hangings "curtains, tapestry" is from 1640s.



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]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper