Don’t Get Hung Up on Hang

It’s fine if you’ve hung a picture or a sweater on a hook. But if you sent a man to the gallows, that person wasn’t hung. He was hanged.

You can have a hung jury: a jury unable to reach a verdict. They are “hung up” on a decision.

You hang up on someone, and you can get hung up on a project.

But criminals found guilty of capital offenses are hanged (in some places in the world). We all know what that entails. Yet even though we say “his wife hanged herself,” not every instance of being suspended in air with a rope around the neck is a “hanging.”

For example: If your mean neighbor tied a rope to your dog and dangled him from a tree by his leg, although the dog was suspended in air by a rope, he was hung from the tree, not Hanging is all about execution.

Hmm, that works for both meanings: you are attempting to execute someone by hanging him, and it’s all about the execution of the act. Have I started to confuse you?

One more related point—don’t confuse hanger and hangar.

  • Planes are kept in a building called a hangar.
  • Clothes hang (or are hung) on a hanger.
  • You could be a hanger-on (hangers-on, plural) if you hang around a plane hangar. Just don’t hang anyone or you might get hanged!



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