Hangover or Hungover?

Hangover or Hungover?

“If a man sits down to think, he is immediately asked if he has a headache.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson, an American essayist

If you’ve ever been confused not only by hangover and hungover, but also by hang, hung and hanged, read on…


If someone wakes up with a hangover /ˈhæŋˌəʊvə(r)/, they feel sick and have a headache because they have drunk a lot of alcohol the night before. Thus, hangover is a countable noun:

  • She had a bad hangover.
  • At my age the hangovers have become unbearable.
  • I think I still have a hangover.
  • I had a monstrous hangover.
  • Do you know any natural hangover remedy?

Hangover can also mean something from the past (an idea, attitude, etc.) that still exists or happens but is no longer necessary or useful:

  • This feeling was a hangover from her schooldays.
  • This is an institution which is a hangover from Victorian times.
  • There will be no hangover from the past.
  • This is a hangover from the past when science was divided by many into ‘pure’ (research with no immediate application to human problems) and ‘applied’ (that with obvious application).


Hungover /hʌŋˈəʊvə(r)/ is an adjective. It means tired and ill in the morning because you drank too much alcohol the night before:

  • He was still hungover on the 25-minute bus drive to work the following morning.
  • I was quite hungover that day.
  • You already look like you’re hungover.
  • Never talk about anything serious when you are hungover.
  • I’m extremely hungover, and I’m not proud of it.
Drink in moderation to avoid hangovers.


To hang (hung; hung) is to fasten something so that the top part is fixed but the lower part is free to move, or to be fastened in this way:

  • A light-bulb hanging from the ceiling filled the room with a cold yellow light.
  • The curtains will be hanging there for years.
  • He hung his coat on the hook behind the door.
  • One of the pictures had been hung upside down.
  • She hung her clothes outside to dry.
  • The portrait will now be hung in the National Gallery.
  • The walls are hung with pictures.

If something such as smoke hangs in the air, it remains there without appearing to move or change position: 1) Thick fog hung over the town. 2) The smoke from the bonfires hung in the air. 3) His breath was hanging in the air before him.

To hang (hanged; hanged) is to kill someone by putting a rope around their neck and making them drop, or to die in this way:

  • They expected to be hanged at 7 am on Tuesday.
  • It is right that their murderers should hang.
  • He hanged himself two hours after arriving at a mental hospital.
  • The poor woman tried to hang herself with her sheet.

As a matter of fact, the verb hang is used in a lot of idioms and phrasal verbs. In “English in “I Hung My Head” by Sting” we wrote about a famous song telling the story of a man filled with shame. If someone hangs their head, they lower their head in shame or embarrassment: 1) She hung her head, not sure how to reply. 2) Daphne had hung her head in shame. 3) I realized I had no reason to hang my head.

In our next post we’ll look at common phrasal verbs with hang, as well as idioms with the word hang. Subscribe to our blog not to miss it. Thank you for reading! 😉

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