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According to the dictionary, "hang" can also be used as a noun, but I don't think it is the right word to use in this scenario. Should I use "hanging" instead, e.g., this software bug may cause two problems to this computer, crash or hanging? It also sounds weird to me.

In general, if a verb doesn't have a direct corresponding noun, what should I do if I have to use a noun to present the same meaning.

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Now I'm wondering whether hanged or hung is used for a computer as a past tense verb. –  Andrew Grimm Mar 14 '11 at 12:23
    
I use 'hung' for computers, pictures, and stockings, and 'hanged' for people, except in the phrase 'hung, drawn, and quartered'. –  Ron Porter Mar 14 '11 at 15:59
    
"Hung" also refers to how well a man is endowed, people are "hanged, drawn and quartered". –  wlangstroth Mar 15 '11 at 3:45
    
I think the reason the sentence sounds strange is that the two alternatives are not parallel. Use: crashing or hanging. –  Peter Shor Aug 6 '11 at 10:57

4 Answers 4

up vote 3 down vote accepted

You could say "a freeze", but "a hang" is also perfectly acceptable.

As a matter of fact the title of the wikipedia article "Freeze_(Computing)" is actually... "Hang" and starts like this

"In computing, a hang or freeze occurs when either a single computer program or the whole system ceases to respond to inputs."

(emphasis is mine)

Personally I would prefer to use a "hang" for a server (typically in the case when a request is sent and one waits indefinitely for the answer) whereas the "freeze" conjures up the idea of an unresponsive GUI (when for instance moving the mouse does not move the pointer) and would therefore preferably apply to a desktop.

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I've been a computer programmer for ten years, and I've never heard anyone use "hang" as a noun. Maybe as a joke: "This computer has a bit of the hang". Hey, thanks - I might use that! –  wlangstroth Mar 15 '11 at 3:50

In at least some technical communities, a hang is perfectly standard, and probably the correct term to use. Try googling, for example, "fixing a hang" or "server hang":

We will go over the basic debugging of a server hang in a future post.

If you don’t like that noun usage, then reworking it to use a verb is probably the best option, if there’s a reasonably non-clunky way to do so.

I’d be rather wary of substituting other nouns (freezes, crashes, etc.), depending of course on context. As with all technical and semi-technical terms, there may be subtle distinctions between their precise meanings, which it’s important to respect. I don’t know what the usage is now, but at least on Macs in the early 90’s, if I remember right, a freeze and a hang were two specific types of crash — to a lay reader they sounded like synonyms, but when the technical details mattered, they weren’t quite interchangeable.

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In such cases you could do the following, in order of preference:

  • Restructure the sentence, as in "this may cause your computer to hang or crash".
  • Use a noun that means something similar though slightly different.
  • Use a gerund, as you suggested; this may be a bit awkward if you are using the verb in a marginal sense, one that is not very widely used.

In your case, perhaps you could use the noun "freeze", "unresponsiveness", or "unresponsive behaviour":

This software bug may cause two problems, crashes and freezing.

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Thanks, @Cerberus. I actually thought about restructuring, but the problem is that there are many places I need to use a noun. Not all of them are in sentences that are easy to restructure. Moreover, I need to use a very accurate word. Maybe I will just use "hanging" then... –  evergreen Mar 13 '11 at 23:05

How about freeze or halt? As to your general question, I would look around for other word stems, or just reword. (In this particular case, I might write, "the software bug might cause the computer to crash or hang".)

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Thanks for the suggestions. "halt" is not accurate based on my context, because the system has not terminated yet. "freeze" is much closer, but I think people usually say an user interface (such as the display) freezes. "Hang" is the most accurate, but I don't know how to use it as a noun. Do you think I can just use "hang" as a noun in this case? –  evergreen Mar 13 '11 at 22:58
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@evergreen: well, if you absolutely insist, yes. Though I would throw in an article just to make sure that the word is parsed as a noun right away. "A crash or a hang". A quick Google search for "causes a hang" suggests that this usage is actually quite common. –  RegDwigнt Mar 13 '11 at 23:04

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