Hang On (or hang on to)

Also: Hang on to your hat

Meaning of Idiom Hang On or Hang on to

Hang on, when used alone can mean to persevere. When used this way it is similar to “hang in there.”

Hang on can also mean to keep something. When used with this meaning, the object being kept is named, necessitating the preposition to.

Hang on also means to hold tight (to something/someone). When a physical object being held on to is named, the preposition to is used.

The most common meaning of the idiom hang on however, is to tell someone to wait on the phone or to wait in general. When used on the phone both wait and hold the phone (to one’s ear).

Hang on to is often rendered hang onto and accepted either way, but only the former is technically correct.

Hang on to your hats: an expression used to warn people that a big surprise is about to occur, but also used in other circumstances, such as when a ride in a vehicle is expected to be bumpy.


When used on the phone, the idiom often stands alone, but often takes the form of “hang on a minute.” Either variant can be used to tell another person to wait or to be patient.

Examples Of Use

“The receptionist told the client to hang on while she checked the appointment schedule.”

“Hang on a minute!” said Mick. “Don’t start without me!”

“I almost sold my 1961 Mustang because I was so strapped for cash, but I decided to hang on to it.”

“He had the lead for most of the race but he was unable to hang on to it in the final leg.”

“Anytime my friend Dave drives I hang on the entire ride.”

“I’ve always thought it looked fun to ride around town hanging on to the back of a garbage truck, but it’s probably not all it’s cracked up to be.”

“You just have to hang on and I promise things will be better soon.”


Used in various ways since the early part of the 1800’s.

More Idioms Starting with H

More Hang Idioms

More ‘On’ Idioms

More ‘To’ Idioms

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