By Jennifer Copley (Last Updated, November 14, 2013)
Hang means to suspend something from something else (or that something is attached to something else and dangling from the attachment point). The past tense of hang is hung.
She hangs the picture on the wall. They hang the picture on the wall. (present)
She hung the picture on the wall yesterday. They hung the picture on the wall. (past)
She will hang the picture on the wall tomorrow. They will hang the picture on the wall. The picture will be hung on the wall. (future)
Hang can also refer to something that fills the air above. For example:
The thick smoke hung in the air above them for hours before dispersing.
A sense of dread hung over the city as its citizens awaited the coming storm.
Hang can also mean to kill someone by putting a rope around his or her neck and suspending the person from something until dead. When used in this sense, the past tense of hang is hanged:
She was hanged for murder.
He hanged himself when he discovered that they had cancelled his favourite television show.
Hung over is used as a slang term to refer to the feelings of illness that occur after excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages the night before, a malady that is referred to as a hangover.
Hang is also used in a number of common idiomatic expressions:
- Get the hang of: learn how to do something (It took me ages to get the hang of tap dancing.)
- Hang fire: delay taking an action (He asked his sales team to hang fire on the new marketing campaign until more research could be conducted.)
- Hang in the air: remain unresolved (Their conversation was cut short, leaving a lot of important issues hanging in the air.)
- Hang someone out to dry: leave that person in a difficult situation or vulnerable to something (Someone had to be blamed for the disaster, so although they had all contributed to the problem, John was hung out to dry by his coworkers.)
- Hang tough: remain strong, resolved, or inflexible (Although they threatened the reporter with jail if she did not reveal her source, she hung tough and refused to give in to pressure.)
- Hang around: wait or loiter (They hung around in front of the store, hoping something interesting would happen.)
- Hang around with someone: spend time with that person, usually on a regular basis (He hangs around with much older kids.)
- Hang out with someone: spend time with one or more people doing something leisurely and enjoyable (They hung out listening to music and doing artwork.)
- Hang together: make sense or to stay together and support one another: (The novel doesn’t hang together well; the plot is a mess. We have to hang together if we want to win this court case.)
- Hang in there: stay determined and persistent in a difficult situation (Hang in there; this ordeal will be over soon.)
- Hang on to: retain, not let go of (It’s a bad idea to hang on to an abusive relationship.)
- Hang up: end a telephone connection, often abruptly and unexpectedly (She tried to explain why she had ignored him at the party, but he hung up on her before she could finish talking.)
- Hang by a thread: be extremely vulnerable, at risk, and likely to fail or fall (After sending a series of insulting emails to his boss, his job was hanging by a thread.)
- O’Conner, P. T. (1996). Woe Is I, the Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English. New York, G. P. Putnam’s Sons.
- Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. (2013). “Definition of Hang in English.” Oxford University Press. OALD8.OxfordLearnersDictionaries.com.