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From nasa.gov
A satellite is an object that moves around a larger object.

What is the word for an object that hangs from another object?

  • an ornament on a Christmas tree
  • a figure on a (baby) mobile

A shirt could be considered the "hangee" of a hanger.

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    I can only think of obsolete words like 'pendicle' or the sense of 'pendant' as being something suspended. I mention them here in case they jog someone's memory for something that isn't obsolete. – Spagirl Sep 7 '18 at 15:13
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    older usage, but still correct: dependent. The ornament depends from the tree, the figure depends from the mobile's body. – GerardFalla Sep 7 '18 at 16:15
  • I don't think there's a common term, it's not a concept that needs to be mentioned much. – Barmar Sep 7 '18 at 18:30
  • @Barmar I was making a mobile for a baby and wanted to express that I still had "things" to add, i.e. objects to hang. – Flakkenmarsh Sep 7 '18 at 22:27
  • Just call them whatever they are, such as "ornaments" or "decorations". The fact that they're hanging is implied from the context of the mobile. – Barmar Sep 7 '18 at 22:30
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There’s pendant, and pendulum, both of which literally mean a loose-hanging thing. The trouble is that they have become much narrower in meaning over time because of their associations with specific things. Pendant has come to mean a dangling piece of jewelry. Pendulum has come to mean a precision device, because of its association with clocks and other instruments which rely on the regularity of a pendulum’s swing. You can still use one of these words for your purpose, but you will also likely have to explain what you are up to, or else be misunderstood.

The historical ancestor of these words makes up many other common words today that you might not think are similar. But when you look at them, they are all things related to other things by a common thread. The historical ancestor referred to the natural thread created by a spider (a related word), and the act of spinning (a related word originally describing the act of twisting plant or animal fibers together to form a thread). From there we also got expense, meaning money, originally weighed out using a hanging scale, pound, a measure of weight, and depend, a verb meaning to hang from another thing, literally or today mostly figuratively.

My personal favorite is pansy, the flower named for thinking, from French pensée (a thought), from Latin pensare (to weigh, figuratively to weigh in the mind, to meditate upon). This idea of weighing in the mind is also where we our word pensive, meaning deep in thought. The pansy is traditionally symbolic of thought and memory and is still used as an emblem of free-thinking.

If you want to look for more common threads, check out the entry for *(s)pen- at the Online Etymology Dictionary.

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