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hang a left

Posted: Sun Mar 23, 2008 6:57 pm
by Tony Farg
Any ideas on "hang a left" (or right)?

Re: hang a left

Posted: Sun Mar 23, 2008 8:11 pm
by JerrySmile
You mean, as in:

I was driving today past a school and a bus full of kids hanged a left out of a parking lot right in front of me. I literally had to slam on my brakes. ...


Seems to be to take a sharp turn.

Re: hang a left

Posted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 9:17 am
by Tony Farg
That's exactly what I meant (though I would have said "hung"). The question is, though, why?
If one were crewing a small boat turning left, I think one would hang out on the right, so that can't be it.
What's the origin of the phrase...I can't find one.

Re: hang a left

Posted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 11:17 am
by PhilHunt
Just off the top of my head, perhaps the origin is linked to the airforce.
Hanger on the left > Hang a left.

Re: hang a left

Posted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 6:55 pm
by Tony Farg
Hmmm. Seems as far-fetched as most things. Perhaps that's it!

Re: hang a left

Posted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 7:39 pm
by trolley
The idea of hanging out the starboard side of a boat when tacking to port is to prevent you from laying her over. Hanging to the left makes you go left. Hanging to the right makes to go right. Think about riding a bike or stumbling home from the pub.
BTW…. I think most guys hang to the left.

Re: hang a left

Posted: Tue Mar 25, 2008 8:06 pm
by Ken Greenwald
Tony et al, Although many slang dictionaries, as well as standard dictionaries (including the Oxford English Dictionary), and some word mavens, list HANG A LEFT/RIGHT, no one seems to know where it came from, or at least they’re not tellin’. (<:) Only one out of the entire bunch I checked even made any attempt to provide an origin.

Here is that lone attempt, which is somewhat feeble, but who knows?

Dictionary of American Slang by Chapman

HANG A LEFT (or A RIGHT) verb phrase by 1960s teenagers. To turn left or right, to round a corner: Bellsey hung a left on 53rd Street . . .—Lawrence Sanders [perhaps from surfers’ hang five (1960s surfers. To ride forward on the surfboard so that the toes of one foot are over the edge), hang ten (1960s surfers. To ride forward on a surfboard so that the toes of both feet are over the edge)]

Oxford English Dictionary
TO HANG A LEFT, RIGHT, etc. colloquial (originally and chiefly U.S.). Also jocular with proper names having the appropriate initial letter, as Louie, Ralph, etc.): to go or turn in the specified direction, especially while travelling in a motor vehicle or on skis.
<1967 “If you're in your pig [sc. car, in Detroit] and you ‘HANG A LOUIE’, you've just turned left. If you ‘HANG A RALPH,’ it's a right turn, ‘HANG A SAM’ is go straight and ‘HANG A ULYSSES’ means make a U-turn [[I’ve always heard WHIP A U-IE for this one]].”—Evening Standard (London), 26 July, page 13/3>

<1969 “HANG A LOUIS, verb. To turn left.—College males, Michigan.—Hang a Louis at the next corner.”—Current Slang Vol. I & II, page 47>

<1975 “HANG A RIGHT (LEFT), turn right or left.”—The ‘Official’ CB Slanguage Dictionary and Cross-Reference by L. Dills, page 39>

<1976 “Bone told him to go on to the next corner and HANG A RIGHT.”—Cutter & Bone by N. Thornburg, viii. page 182>

<1978 “The skiing term HANG A LEFT is used generally to mean to take a left turn.”—New York Times Magazine, 23 July, page 23/1>

<1984 “‘HANG A RIGHT on Santa Monica Freeway, HANG A LEFT on Harbour and another right on Sixth Street.’ If you HANG LEFTS where you were told to HANG RIGHTS, the freeway system is unforgiving.”—Sunday Telegraph (London), 29 July, page 19/1>

<1985 “You . . . HUNG A ONE-EIGHTY and found another way to get where you were going.”—Taxi Dancer by Heywood, page 78>

<1986 “‘Where is it?’ ‘Left . . . HANG A LEFT.’ They drove through dark wet streets.”—Under Contract by L. Cody, xli. page 170>

<1989 “HANG A LOUIE [[l.c.]] here.”—Dream Street (NBC-TV)

<1995 “HANG A LEFT at the thirteen moons of Vimulon . . . If you hit the Sun, you’ve gone too fast.”—Radioactive Man Colossal, No. 1, unpaged>

<1997 “It's anybody's guess who has the right of way at the intersection of Godfrey and Hollister avenues. And at the ‘T’ intersections where Mapleton Avenue and Dogan Street come into Godfrey, a driver can just HANG A RIGHT OR LEFT without coming to a halt.”—The Virginian Pilot (Norfolk), 8 October>

<1999 “HANG A RIGHT at the now-picturesque quarry and head to the beach.”—Boston Globe (Massachusetts), 2 October>

<2008 “A neat little roof overhangs the front door and once in you're into a hallway from which doors radiate off. HANG A LEFT to the study, neat and business like, and next to that is a comfortable lounge with a living flame gas fire and French doors onto the garden.”—Daily Post (Liverpool, England), 8 March>
(quotes from Oxford English Dictionary, Historical Dictionary of American Slang, and archived sources)

Michael Quinion in World Wide Words at hang a Louie does a excellent job of discussing the various HANG A variations. But again, there is not a word on where the expression might have come from.

Ken G – March 25, 2008

Re: hang a left

Posted: Wed Mar 26, 2008 1:44 am
by gdwdwrkr
Careening around a corner on two of four wheels is the kind of hanging this evokes around here.

Re: hang a left

Posted: Thu Mar 27, 2008 7:24 pm
by Shelley
For the record, where I grew up (midwest USA) it was "hang a Louie" for left and "hang a Roscoe" for right.

Re: hang a left

Posted: Thu Mar 27, 2008 8:57 pm
by gdwdwrkr
Funny. Louies got hocked here.

Re: hang a left

Posted: Thu Mar 27, 2008 9:23 pm
by trolley
We horked loogies. (lugies?)