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See also: hangen and Hängen



  • IPA(key): /ˈhɛŋən/, [ˈhɛŋən], [ˈhɛŋŋ̩]

Etymology 1[edit]

From a conflation of three interrelated verbs all originally meaning “to hang”, but varying in their transitivity and intransitivity: 1.) Middle High German hāhen (transitive and intransitive), from Old High German hāhan (chiefly transitive [sic]), a strong verb with past forms hieng, gehangan, from Proto-Germanic *hanhaną (intransitive). 2.) Middle High German hangen, from Middle High German hangēn (both intransitive). 3.) Middle High German hengen (to hang, to dangle, to let go, to allow), from Old High German hengen (idem), from Proto-Germanic *hangijaną (to hang, transitive).

Because of various interferences in the inflected forms, due to grammatischer Wechsel, umlaut and Rückumlaut, these three verbs were bound to be intermingled. Verbs 1 and 2 were merged in such a way that the present stem hang- was combined with the strong past forms of hāhen. This development is first attested in the north and seems to have spread from Middle Low German hangen to Central German dialects of Middle High German (14th century). The transitive verb 3 (hängen) was kept separate into the 20th century, at least by prescription, but the present stem is now häng- for all uses. The split is upheld in the past forms, but is not consistently followed outside of formal contexts.

Cognate to Dutch hangen, English hang.

Alternative forms[edit]

  • hangen (generally archaic, but still sometimes in the South)


hängen (class 7 strong or irregular strong, third-person singular present hängt, past tense hing or (nonstandard) hang, past participle gehangen, auxiliary haben)

  1. (intransitive) to hang; to be suspended
    Synonym: baumeln
    Der Apfel hängt am Baum.
    The apple hangs on the tree.
  2. (intransitive) to be attached to; to be fond of; to be devoted to; to cling to
    Er hängt sehr an seiner Schwester.
    He is very attached to his sister.
  3. (intransitive, somewhat informal) to depend on
    Synonym: abhängen
    Es hängt alles daran, wie du dich entscheidest.
    It all depends on what decision you take.
  4. (transitive, colloquial, otherwise proscribed) to hang something; to suspend
    Ich hab meine Jacke an die Garderobe gehangen.
    I’ve hung my jacket on the hallstand.
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle High German hengen, that is “verb 3” in etymology 1. See above.


hängen (weak, third-person singular present hängt, past tense hängte, past participle gehängt, auxiliary haben)

  1. (transitive) to hang something; to suspend
    Antonym: abhängen
    Ich habe meine Jacke an die Garderobe gehängt.
    I’ve hung my jacket on the hallstand.
  2. (transitive) to hang someone; to execute by hanging
    Synonym: (dated) henken
    Wenn er verurteilt wird, hängen sie ihn.
    If he’s convicted, they’re going to hang him.
  3. (reflexive) to hang on to; to follow
    Häng dich an deine Schwester, die weiß Bescheid.
    Hang on to your sister, she knows how things work.

Usage notes[edit]

  • The verb is generally construed with the preposition an. It is followed by the dative case in intransitive use, and the accusative case in transitive or reflexive use.

Further reading[edit]

  • hängen” in Digitales Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache

Low German[edit]


From Old Saxon hengian, from Proto-Germanic *hangijaną. See also hangen.


hängen (third-person singular simple present hängt, past tense häng, past participle hängt, auxiliary verb hebben)

  1. (transitive) to hang (something); to suspend
  2. (transitive) to hang (someone), e.g. for a crime
  3. (reflexive, with “an ...”) to hang on (to something)
  4. (intransitive) to hang; to be suspended (hangen is usually preferred in this sense)
  5. (intransitive) to stick; to cling (hangen is usually preferred in this sense)
  6. (intransitive, figuratively, with an) to be fond of, to feel strongly about (hangen is usually preferred in this sense)
    Bochum, ik häng an di.
    Bochum, I'm fond of you.


Usage notes[edit]

Hängen has a doublet with nearly the same meaning and usage, hangen. However, hängen is usually preferred in its transitive meaning, while hangen is more commonly used as an intransitive verb.

The strong preterite forms ik hung, du hungst, he hung, ... are sometimes found instead of the normal weak forms ik häng, du hängst, he häng, ... due to confusion with hangen.