phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Hung up

Posted by ESC on December 14, 2004

In Reply to: Hung up and persona non grata posted by Bob on December 14, 2004

: : : What is to be hung up on something? Obsessed with? Worried about? Does it have the additional meaning of feeling guilty of?

: : : Thanks

: : : JC

: : : PS. English is not my first language, but I am not learning it either. This forum is primarily intended for those who speak E. as first language. Does it mean that people like me are about to become personae non gratae here?

: : No, I would hope not. The occasional query about phrases that many native English speakers would already know is fine.

: : We were recently in danger of becoming seen by people who knew very little English as a means of teaching themselves the language or of translating whatever book they were reading virtually line bt line. That, and other postings that were off-topic were spoiling the fun so I made the rules of engagement, which had previously been implicit, explicit.

: The problem with the phrase "hung up on" is that, as you have observed, it can mean all three. Obsessed, or mildly obsessed, or preoccupied. Worried about. And feeling guilty in a way that inhibits action.

: It's a vague term, meant to be heard in context to make sense of it. Careful writers should avoid it, using more precise language.

Hang up! - Stop. 1900. From Listening to America: An Illustrated History of Words and Phrases from Our Lively and Splendid Past by Stuart Berg Flexner (Simon and Schuster, New York, 1982).

Hung up - bewildered. The Jive Generation - 1940s
Hang - relax. Mainstream 1950s.
Hang up -- fixed pattern of behavior. The Beat Culture 1950s.
Hang up -- inhibition. Hippie Counterculture. or from "hang" (1950s: to relax).
From "Flappers 2 Rappers: American Youth Slang" by Tom Dalzell (Merriam-Webster Inc., Springfield, Md., 1996).

Also, the romantic sense: "I'm hung up over you." Meaning he or she can't get over an infatuation.

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