"That's a great deal to make one word mean," Alice said in a thoughtful tone. "When I make a word do a lot of work like that," said Humpty Dumpty, "I always pay it extra."

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Hanged or hung?

   Did you know that in British English inanimate or dead objects are hung but people are hanged. In other words the past tense of hang is 'hung' if referring to things like hanging game to enrich the flavour but 'hanged' if referring to capital punishment for people.

(I don't think I'll bother illustrating this post!)


  1. No, I didn't know that, thank you for explaining. And you're right, no illustration necessary...

  2. Hanged if I knew the difference! :o) xoxo Carol

  3. I know I wrote something once that triggered someone to comment about this, but just now I can't remember the context.

  4. As in, "Might as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb." Sheep stealing is dirty work. The sheep are dumber than a box of rocks, they make a racket and alert the dog - there's always a dog, you see.

    I decided to look this one up for my own edification, and discovered that D H Lawrence got it wrong. Here's the Reference and the quote:

    This example is from Sons and Lovers by D H Lawrence, of 1913: “It seemed as if she did not like being discovered in her home circumstances... But she might as well be hung for a sheep as for a lamb. She invited him out of the mausoleum of a parlour into the kitchen.”

    Nice choice for the word, by the way.

  5. But you would still say "He was hanged in the square and hung there for some time".