Hang out with - what is the origin of this?

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages, and Linguistics (EHL)' started by Curious about Language, Jun 27, 2008.

  1. Curious about Language Senior Member

    Australia, English
    Hello everyone,
    I was wondering about "hang out with", the origin of "hang out" and if it is at all connected to "hang" as in be executed by hanging. I know that originally it meant loiter or be idle, but I was wondering if there was any darker meaning to this originally - for example, "Don't hang around this that crowd!" being a kind of warning, in the same way "wag" as a noun for troublemaker relates to a waghalter, or someone who is likely to wind up being hung.

    If anyone out here has any ideas/information on this, they would be much appreciated!
  2. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    I very much doubt it relates to being executed. I think it was Benjamin Franklin who said something like "We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately." It would not have been passed down to us as a memorable quote if "hang together" referred to being hanged.
  3. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Thinking of the first example 'hang out' i was reminded of the passive nature of the (non-)activity. If we are doing sports at that time, we will not be saying we are hanging around, I think. It implies lack of will, looking for something that makes sense, or not even that. Just trying to 'kill' the time !

    So I would think that connection makes sense. We have it also in Dutch, maybe it exists in German as well, but in any other language ?
  4. vmrweb Senior Member

    south-east of Bavaria
    German - Germany
    Etymonline.com says "Teen slang sense of "spend time" first recorded 1951; hang around "idle, loiter" is from 1830, and hang out (v.) is from 1844."
    As in the late 19th century hanging wasn't such a popular execution method any more, I'd say it's not very likely.
  5. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    "Hang out", "hang around", "hang together", "hang tough", "hang loose", ...

    The common theme is something like "to remain" or "to let oneself be". Even "hung over" suggests that something remains (is left over) of something that happened the previous evening.

    The past tense and participle of all of these is "hung ...", not "hanged ...".
  6. Curious about Language Senior Member

    Australia, English
    Thank you all for your comments, they were very interesting. I especially liked ThomasK making the point that it highlights the passive nature of what people are doing when they "hang out" - not playing sports or whatever, but just sitting around shooting the breeze, or whatever. Thanks to you all!

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