Definition of hang on in English:

hang on

phrasal verb

  • 1Hold tightly.

    ‘he hung on to the back of her coat’
    • ‘Clasping me around the neck he hung on tightly, and it was all I could do to breathe.’
    • ‘He hung on to the side of the boat, his hands tightly grasping the rope.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Bracing herself as best as she could, Raquel hung on tightly to her chair with her good arm.’
    • ‘I would have felt safer if I had a bar to hang on to, rather than hanging suspended in a harness.’
    • ‘Looking down, he saw Tyra, hanging on as tightly as she could.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The sailors' limbs flailed around, desperate to find something to hang on to.’
    • ‘Jennifer grabbed David around the waist and hung on tightly trying to prevent the tiger getting him out of the vehicle.’
    • ‘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.’
    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’
      • ‘They managed to hang on for the remaining five minutes to record a famous victory.’
      • ‘The whole area is due for demolition and the remaining residents are hanging on for a compulsory purchase settlement.’
      • ‘The Greens hung on for victory, which they deserved for their second half domination.’
      • ‘The doctors said I must hang on because they cannot write me off.’
      • ‘But she's persistent so she hangs on, and so we're caught in this constitutional crisis.’
      • ‘Despite insurmountable difficulties and cruelties he did not leave his homeland and hung on.’
      • ‘We hung on and hung on and three minutes into injury time we were somehow only two points down.’
      • ‘And so it was that the pre-match favourites hung on for the narrowest of victories.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
    2. 1.2Keep; retain.
      ‘he is determined to hang on to his job’
      • ‘It's amazing what you hang on to when it should really have been thrown out years ago.’
      • ‘I would gather information, images, ideas from the raw creative source and try to hang on to as much of it as can.’
      • ‘I was hanging on to too much of the interesting tax planning cases in the business rather than letting others contribute.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘German museums are not alone in hanging on to what they have got.’
      • ‘Some ideas and notions you have been hanging on to may have to be dropped as reality and life show you other truths.’
      • ‘We may not want to lose touch with our youth, but we have to be very careful what we hang on to.’
      • ‘They too have a heritage that's worth hanging on to and worth preserving.’
      • ‘It's stuff that seems important enough to hang on to, but not actually important enough to deal with.’
      • ‘Local government hung on to all its underspend for the new financial year.’
  • 2informal Wait for a short time.

    ‘hang on a minute—do you think I might have left anything out?’
    • ‘All we are saying is, hang on a minute, let's see if we can do something better.’
    • ‘But hang on a minute: seventy years ago, fifty pence a day was quite a lot in New Zealand.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Oh, hang on a minute, aren't they cool again at the moment?’
    • ‘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, there is no doubt that he must have either stolen or received them.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘But hang on a minute - what's the council tax all about then?’
    • ‘‘Yeah - wait, hang on,’ she let go of my hand and grabbed my shoulder as she untied her shoe.’
    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.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Did you know that the number one cause of rage in the UK is being left hanging on the telephone?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘So I'm hanging on the phone, waiting to see what this woman wants.’
      • ‘He hung on the line, waiting for Frank to pick up the phone.’
      • ‘Richard Ford is livid after hanging on the telephone for hours trying to sort out his family's child tax credit.’
      • ‘They're always engaged or I'm kept hanging on waiting for someone.’
      • ‘I too tried phoning them and was hanging on for 20 minutes and then hung up.’
      • ‘Those who return the call can expect to be kept hanging on while listening to a rambling message.’
  • 3Be contingent or dependent on.

    ‘everything hangs on the forthcoming by-elections’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Much hangs on the outcome of France's referendum on the European Union constitution on May 29.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Henman's victory hung on one appalling line call.’
    • ‘The entire case apparently hangs on the circumstance that they are paid less well than employees in the private sector.’
    • ‘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.’
    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’
    • ‘Maxine swept in, looking fabulous and kept us hanging on every word for the rest of the evening.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘We hung on their every word until their companies went bust, they were fired or they left to ‘pursue other interests’.’
    • ‘She follows Cassio around and hangs on his every word.’
    • ‘No problem; this is music of infinite charm and variety, and the audience hung on every note.’
    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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