v. (wk.)

Gaw pres. henges, past henged; Cl heng; WA hinge, pres. 3 sg. hingis, pres. ptcp. hingand, past sg. honge, pp. hangid

‘to hang (trans. and intrans.), weigh’ (Modern English hang)


ME hengen clearly represents a wk. 1 causative v. formed on PGmc *xang-. OE had only the str. VII hōn ‘to hang’ (trans.) < PGmc *xanxan- (cp. OS, OHG hahan etc.) and the wk. 2 hangian ‘to hang’ (intrans.) < PGmc *xangēn- (cp. OS hangōn, OHG hangēn etc.). There are wk. 1 verbs elsewhere in WGmc (viz. OFris hingia, MDu hengen, OHG ir-henken), and a number of nominal formations in OE on the i-mutated stem heng- (e.g. hengen ‘hanging, cross, rack’, hengetrēow ‘gallows’), and so the existence of a wk. 1 OE *hengan would not be strange; but its failure to appear in the OE textual record, and the N distribution of the word in ME lead most authorities to explain ME hengen as a loan from ON, cp. OIcel hengja (wk. 1) ‘to hang’ (trans.).

PGmc Ancestor


Proposed ON Etymon (OIcel representative)

hengja  ‘to hang’
(ONP hengja (vb.))

Other Scandinavian Reflexes

Far heingja, Icel hengja, Norw hengja, Dan hænga, Sw hänga

OE Cognate

cp.  hōn ‘to hang’ (trans.) and hangian ‘to hang’ (intrans.) 

Phonological and morphological markers

Summary category



On late OE pres. tense heng- forms see SPS; in ME heng- is found primarily in N and E texts (see esp. OED).

Occurrences in the Gersum Corpus

Gaw 117, 182, 477, etc.; Cl 1584, 1734; WA 27, 779, 3260 etc.

On the expression ‘heng vp þyn ax’ at Gaw 477, see PSn. MS D of WA reads <hynget> at 779.


MED hōngen (v.) , OED hang (v.) , HTOED , HTOED , Dance henge, Bj. 157, SPS 488, de Vries hengja, Mag. hengja (2), Bj-L henge, Orel *xanʒjanan, Kroonen *hangjan- ~ *hankjan-, Seebold hanh-a-