Definition of hang on in English:

hang on

phrasal verb

  • 1Hold tightly.

    ‘he hung on to the back of her coat’
    • ‘Every time we sped under a bridge, people walking by overhead stopped and leant over the side to wave, but most of the time, as we once again picked up speed, we were hanging on too tight to wave back.’
    • ‘Jennifer grabbed David around the waist and hung on tightly trying to prevent the tiger getting him out of the vehicle.’
    • ‘I would have felt safer if I had a bar to hang on to, rather than hanging suspended in a harness.’
    • ‘Clasping me around the neck he hung on tightly, and it was all I could do to breathe.’
    • ‘The sailors' limbs flailed around, desperate to find something to hang on to.’
    • ‘Even as parents hung on to the railings of the balcony above, the children turned on their lung and brain power in the hall below.’
    • ‘Bracing herself as best as she could, Raquel hung on tightly to her chair with her good arm.’
    • ‘I hung on to the back of his kilt as he set off in his stout brogues and little protection against the weather other than a sou'wester and a mackintosh.’
    • ‘He hung on to the side of the boat, his hands tightly grasping the rope.’
    • ‘Looking down, he saw Tyra, hanging on as tightly as she could.’
    hold on to, hold fast to, grip, clutch, grasp, hold tightly, cling to, cling on to
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    1. 1.1informal Remain firm or persevere, especially in difficult circumstances.
      ‘United hung on for victory’
      • ‘We hung on and hung on and three minutes into injury time we were somehow only two points down.’
      • ‘But she's persistent so she hangs on, and so we're caught in this constitutional crisis.’
      • ‘And so it was that the pre-match favourites hung on for the narrowest of victories.’
      • ‘The whole area is due for demolition and the remaining residents are hanging on for a compulsory purchase settlement.’
      • ‘Her house was demolished to make way for a new tram station, even though she did not want to leave it and hung on until she was the last resident in her street to move out.’
      • ‘They managed to hang on for the remaining five minutes to record a famous victory.’
      • ‘The doctors said I must hang on because they cannot write me off.’
      • ‘He was heartened by the way his side hung on for victory at Everton last weekend, but still concerned at their failure to finish the game off.’
      • ‘The Greens hung on for victory, which they deserved for their second half domination.’
      • ‘Despite insurmountable difficulties and cruelties he did not leave his homeland and hung on.’
      persevere, hold out, hold on, go on, carry on, keep on, keep going, keep at it, not give up
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    2. 1.2hang on to Keep; retain.
      ‘he is determined to hang on to his job’
      • ‘Phoebe is honest and upright and true and I hope she hangs on to that because she's got this defiantly moral streak in her.’
      • ‘It's stuff that seems important enough to hang on to, but not actually important enough to deal with.’
      • ‘I would gather information, images, ideas from the raw creative source and try to hang on to as much of it as can.’
      • ‘It's amazing what you hang on to when it should really have been thrown out years ago.’
      • ‘They too have a heritage that's worth hanging on to and worth preserving.’
      • ‘We may not want to lose touch with our youth, but we have to be very careful what we hang on to.’
      • ‘Some ideas and notions you have been hanging on to may have to be dropped as reality and life show you other truths.’
      • ‘I was hanging on to too much of the interesting tax planning cases in the business rather than letting others contribute.’
      • ‘German museums are not alone in hanging on to what they have got.’
      • ‘Local government hung on to all its underspend for the new financial year.’
      retain, hold on to, keep for oneself, retain possession of, keep possession of, retain in one's possession, keep hold of, not part with, hold fast to, hold back
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  • 2informal Wait for a short time.

    ‘hang on a minute—do you think I might have left anything out?’
    • ‘But hang on, there is no doubt that he must have either stolen or received them.’
    • ‘‘Yeah - wait, hang on,’ she let go of my hand and grabbed my shoulder as she untied her shoe.’
    • ‘But I ask members to hang on and wait - there is more; help is on the way.’
    • ‘No bad sentiment, but hang on, that must lead to more heavy goods traffic in the area not less?’
    • ‘But hang on a minute - what's the council tax all about then?’
    • ‘All we are saying is, hang on a minute, let's see if we can do something better.’
    • ‘Oh, hang on a minute, aren't they cool again at the moment?’
    • ‘But hang on a minute: seventy years ago, fifty pence a day was quite a lot in New Zealand.’
    • ‘I told the lad on the till to hang on a minute because our stuff was getting mixed up and she gave me such a glare.’
    • ‘He was having a terrible time for the first 25 minutes or so and then he must have thought, hang on, I'm good enough to play wherever and he was fantastic after that.’
    wait, wait a minute, hold on, stop
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    1. 2.1 (on the telephone) remain connected until one is able to talk to a particular person.
      • ‘They're always engaged or I'm kept hanging on waiting for someone.’
      • ‘Those who return the call can expect to be kept hanging on while listening to a rambling message.’
      • ‘Richard Ford is livid after hanging on the telephone for hours trying to sort out his family's child tax credit.’
      • ‘Did you know that the number one cause of rage in the UK is being left hanging on the telephone?’
      • ‘The Evening Press reported yesterday how members of the public are being forced to hang on the telephone in order to have their reports of non-emergency crimes answered.’
      • ‘He hung on the line, waiting for Frank to pick up the phone.’
      • ‘So I'm hanging on the phone, waiting to see what this woman wants.’
      • ‘The armed raider was left hanging on the telephone as his hostages left the building through the front door and bathroom window.’
      • ‘But I think they must have caller ID because I hung on the line for about 45 minutes and no-one took my call.’
      • ‘I too tried phoning them and was hanging on for 20 minutes and then hung up.’
  • 3Be contingent or dependent on.

    ‘everything hangs on the forthcoming by-elections’
    • ‘The entire case apparently hangs on the circumstance that they are paid less well than employees in the private sector.’
    • ‘Henman's victory hung on one appalling line call.’
    • ‘Much hangs on the outcome of France's referendum on the European Union constitution on May 29.’
    • ‘But if the UN is to continue forward with this renewed momentum much hangs on the outcome of the US presidential election and its present campaign.’
    • ‘Whichever way you looked at it, this whole thing definitely hung on Mally being able to get his head round my thought patterns and cutting me some slack.’
    • ‘The Strand Road side were hungry and were determined not to lose another semi-final and they fought for victory as if their very lives hung on the outcome.’
    depend on, be dependent on, turn on, hinge on, rest on, be based on, be conditional on, be contingent upon, be determined by, be decided by, be conditioned by, revolve around
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  • 4Listen closely to.

    ‘she hung on his every word’
    • ‘Jimmie explained the process and Sara listened raptly, hanging on every word.’
    • ‘The excitement and live energy he creates on stage, captures the imagination of all who see him and his fans hang on his every note when he sings.’
    • ‘No problem; this is music of infinite charm and variety, and the audience hung on every note.’
    • ‘She follows Cassio around and hangs on his every word.’
    • ‘Aside from the occasional applause everyone is pensive, hanging on to her words.’
    • ‘It was an excellent chance for him to show off his technical guitar playing prowess, and I hung on every note.’
    • ‘Maxine swept in, looking fabulous and kept us hanging on every word for the rest of the evening.’
    • ‘We hung on their every word until their companies went bust, they were fired or they left to ‘pursue other interests’.’
    • ‘They'll be hanging on every word, waiting for opinions on the third and fourth quarters of the year.’
    • ‘A thousand times he had pleaded with her, and like a fool she had listened to him, hanging on his every word.’
    listen closely to, attend closely to, pay close attention to, be very attentive to, concentrate hard on, pay heed to, lend an ear to, give ear to, be rapt by
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