"The man was hung at dawn." "The man was hanged at dawn."

Are "hung" and "hanged" entirely interchangeable?


No, they are not entirely interchangeable.

Hanged is the correct past participle of hang = execute.

Hung is the correct past participle of hang = suspend. It is increasingly used for hang = execute as well (possibly as an over-correction as hanged is odd), but where there are two words with distinct usages, it's a great pity to confuse them.

  • 1
    Why is it a pity? There can’t be much doubt over what The man was hung at dawn means. – Barrie England Apr 6 '13 at 18:57
  • 1
    Because it reduces diversity and the richness of the language. And while there may be no doubt about what the author of that sentence might have meant, it isn't what he said. Body suspension (not for the faint-hearted!) – Andrew Leach Apr 6 '13 at 19:17
  • @BarrieEngland I wouldn't have much doubt over what The curtains were hung at dawn meant, but that's exactly how The man was hung at dawn strikes my ear. So I put in with Andrew on this one. – John M. Landsberg Apr 6 '13 at 19:26
  • It's another shibboleth. Nothing more. – Barrie England Apr 6 '13 at 19:33
  • @BarrieEngland That's what this site is for. – Andrew Leach Apr 6 '13 at 19:42

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