Hanging (death)

death by suspension of a person by a noose or ligature around the neck

Hanging is caused when a person is held by a rope around the neck.[1] The Oxford English Dictionary says that hanging in this sense is "specifically to put to death by suspension by the neck". Hanging is often used as a form of execution or suicide.

Detail from a painting by Pisanello, 1436–1438

The first known account of execution by hanging was in Homer's Odyssey (Book XXII). In this meaning of the common word hang, the past and past participle is hanged[2] instead of hung.

As a form of death penalty, it is still used in Japan and certain African countries.

Differences between long and short drop


Long drop is when the condemned is dropped from a trapdoor a few feet above the ground and mostly causes the dislocation of the neck, resulting in almost instant death.

Short drop is when the condemned is made to stand on an object, then the object is taken from under them and they die from strangulation.


  1. Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed. Hanging as method of execution is unknown, as method of suicide from 1325.
  2. Oxford English Dictionary (2015 update), OUP, Oxford, UK