Say that you are using some software, and it hangs. In this case, what should I say:

  1. ... when we execute this command, software X gets hanged [or simply hangs].
  2. ... when we execute this command, software X gets hung.

From what I know (from the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language):

Hanged, as a past tense and a past participle of hang, is used in the sense of “to put to death by hanging,” as in Frontier courts hanged many a prisoner after a summary trial. A majority of the Usage Panel objects to hung used in this sense. In all other senses of the word, hung is the preferred form as past tense and past participle, as in I hung my child's picture above my desk.

But I'm not 100% confident on what is more appropriate.

  • 1
    This is probably a duplicate of english.stackexchange.com/questions/818/… , but I hesitate to vote for closing, since no-one else seems to have done so. Mar 17, 2011 at 13:46
  • 1
    It's worth mentioning that “hang” in a software context is a colloquialism, and can mean different things to different people. I would be more specific if possible, e.g. “…software X stops responding to user input.”
    – maniacyak
    Mar 18, 2011 at 20:34

3 Answers 3


Hanged has the specific meaning of execution by hanging, with a rope, "until dead." From NOAD:

2 ( past hanged ) [ trans. ] kill (someone) by tying a rope attached from above around the neck and removing the support from beneath (used as a form of capital punishment) : he was hanged for murder | she hanged herself in her cell

For all other purposes, use hung.


In this context only 'hangs' seems to be appropriate as this is the action that the software performs itself -- it's not being hung/hanged by any external force. Also, as chaos mentioned, it sounds awkward.

In fact, if I received a report saying 'When we execute this command, software X gets hung' I'd ask for clarification -- what hung it? This form may suggest that there's another reason for it, not mentioned in the report.

  • The phrase was originally 'hangs up', as in gets itself tangled in loops of cord. This was too long and not clear enough for computer users, so it looks as if future dictionaries will need another, intransitive meaning for 'hang'. Jun 7, 2011 at 15:35

I would use "hangs". "Gets hanged" is inappropriate and awkward, saying that the software has been executed by hanging, and "gets hung" invokes a slang expression regarding the size of sexual anatomy. ("Gets hung up" would avoid this, but "hangs" is still better.)

Fun fact: being sentenced to "death by hanging" and "to be hung by the neck until dead" denote different forms of execution. "Death by hanging" means to have the knot of the noose placed to the side of one's neck so that the neck is hopefully broken by the drop; being "hung by the neck until dead" means to have the knot placed in back of the neck so that one survives the drop and dies slowly of asphyxiation.

  • 6
    Reference for your "fun fact"?
    – Colin Fine
    Mar 17, 2011 at 17:51

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