Hanged or Hung?

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Hanged or Hung?

What is the difference between "hanged" and "hung"?
  • Hanged. "Hanged" means "put to death by suspension from the neck."
  • Hung. "Hung" means "suspended from above."
If you're talking about executing someone by suspension from the neck, then "hanged" is the past tense and past participle of the verb "to hang." For example:
  • They hanged him for treason.
  • (This is the past tense of "to hang.")
  • He was hanged for piracy.
  • (This is the past participle of "to hang.")
In all other senses of the verb "to hang," the past tense and past participle is "hung." For example:
  • They hung the paintings in the corridor.
  • (This is the past tense.)
  • His picture was hung above the fireplace.
  • (This is the past participle.)
hanged or hung?

A Video Summary

Here is a 1-minute video summarizing this lesson on "hanged" and "hung."

More Example Sentences with "Hung"

  • Anybody caught selling macrame in public should be dyed a natural color and hung out to dry. (Journalist Calvin Trillin)
  • Clowns are the pegs on which the circus is hung. (American showman P. T. Barnum)
  • The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don't. (Author Douglas Adams)

More Example Sentences with "Hanged"

"Hanged" is only used when it means putting someone to death by suspending them from the neck.
  • One should forgive one's enemies, but not before they are hanged. (German poet Heinrich Heine)
  • He who wishes to be rich in a day will be hanged in a year. (Polymath Leonardo da Vinci)
  • No man has ever yet been hanged for breaking the spirit of a law. (President Grover Cleveland)

More about "Hanged" and "Hung"

Pay attention to the detail. Remember that "hanged" specifically means "put to death by suspension from a rope or noose." These two examples relate to hanging-style punishments, but the correct word is "hung."
  • Captain Kidd was hanged for piracy in 1701. After the hanging, his body was taken to be hanged in chains at Tilbury Point.
  • (In this example from History Today, the first "hanged" is correct, but the second should be "hung.")
  • People need to understand: Businesses are going to make mistakes. They shouldn't be shot and hung every time. (Businessman Jamie Dimon)
  • (If Mr. Dimon meant executed, then he should have used "hanged." However, as this figurative hanging follows being shot, it should be assumed that "hung" is being used in the sense of the idiom "hung out to dry" (i.e., abandoned). Therefore, "hung" is correct.)

"Hanged" or "Hung," Drawn, and Quartered

Anyone who has studied the fate of traitors in England from the 13th century to the 18th century will doubtless have encountered "hanged, drawn, and quartered" and "hung, drawn, and quartered." If you opt for "hanged, drawn, and quartered," few will contest your choice, but using the "hanged" version might irk you because the punishment is so commonly described as "hung, drawn, and quartered." If you feel that "hung" is the right word, here are two justifications for you:

(1) "Hung, drawn, and quartered" is a colloquialism.
(2) "Hung" is used over "hanged" because the person being executed is not hanged to death but only hung up (albeit by the neck) as the first stage of the punishment.

Terms with "Hanged" and "Hung"

Here are some common terms with "hanged" and "hung":

Hung
  • hung a picture
  • hung a painting
  • hung down
  • hung around
  • hung beef
  • hung ceiling
  • hung chicken
  • hung parliament
  • hung in there
  • hungover
  • hung up the phone
Hanged
  • hanged man
  • rather hanged for a sheep as a lamb
  • hanged from the yardarm
Interactive Exercise
Here are three randomly selected questions from a larger exercise, which can be edited, printed to create an exercise worksheet, or sent via email to friends or students.

See Also

adverse or averse? affect or effect? appraise or apprise? avenge or revenge? bare or bear? complement or compliment? dependant or dependent? discreet or discrete? disinterested or uninterested? dived and dove e.g. or i.e.? envy or jealousy? imply or infer? its or it's? material or materiel? poisonous or venomous? practice or practise? principal or principle? tenant or tenet? who's or whose? What is the past tense? What are past participles? What are verbs? What are regular verbs? What are irregular verbs? List of easily confused words