Now, the Special English program, Words and Their Stories.
Hang is a simple word. But there are many meanings for hang. Especially when
it is used with other words. Two often-heard expressions are to hang
tight and to hang loose.
When a friend says to hang tight, he is advising you to wait
a little longer, not to give up. He might say, for example, "Hang tight. Keep
studying. You can still pass the course."
But if that same friend tells you to hang loose, he is
telling you to take it easy, not to get excited. He could say, "Hang loose. You
probably passed the English test."
Hang around is an expression with several meanings. Usually,
it means to spend your time doing nothing. You may need time to just hang around
if you have been working too hard. Hang around also can mean spending time with
friends. You hang around with your friends, for example, because you share a
common interest in sports.
Hanging out is similar to hanging around. You may hang out
with the same group of friends and always do things together.
A similar-sounding expression, however, has a very different meaning. The
expression is let it all hang out. Well, when you let it all
hang out, you are being completely open and honest. You do not keep your
opinions hidden, even if they may cause you trouble.
Sometimes, a person may suffer from a hang-up. Well, a
hang-up is an emotional difficulty that causes a problem for a person. You may
know someone, for example, whose hang-up is shyness. They have a problem talking
with people they do not know well.
A hangover can be a very painful condition. A hangover is
the headache, upset stomach and other disorders that result from drinking too
Another common expression is to get the hang of something.
It means to understand how a device works or how to do a job. An office worker
might say that she cannot get the hang of using a computer. But after a few
days, she may tell you that she finally got the hang of it.
One of the early heroes of the American republic, Benjamin Franklin, gave a
warning to the other signers of the Declaration of Independence. The warning
contained two different meanings of the word hang.
"We must all hang together," Franklin said, "or surely, we shall all hang
The other signers took Fanklin's advice. They hung together, remained united.
As a result, the American colonies won their independence. And none of the
signers of the declaration was hanged as a revolutionary by the king of England.
This VOA Special English program, Words and Their Stories, was written by
Marilyn Christiano. Maurice Joyce was the narrator. I'm Shirley Griffith.