English expressions and idioms with ‘hang’

We saw what a hung parliament was yesterday on the World of Words and that started me thinking of more English expressions and idioms with ‘hang’. Here are my favourites:

to get the hang of something
Meaning: to become competent at a new skill
Example: I’ve been learning English for a year and I’m getting the hang of it now.

to hang out
Meaning: to spend time in a place, usually with friends
Example: I like to hang out at the mall with my friends every weekend.

to leave someone hanging
Meaning: to make someone wait for an answer
Example: The visa agency have left me hanging for two weeks so I’m still not sure if I will be able to visit you.

to hang up (a telephone)
Meaning: to end a phone call
Example: I’d better hang up now because I need to get on with some work.

a hangover
Meaning: when you feel sick the day after drinking too much alcohol
Example: I don’t want to go to work today because I have a terrible hangover.

to hang fire
Meaning: to wait before doing something
Example: Let’s hang fire on this project until we have more information.

Today’s image is by Lars Sundstrom.

Binge Drinking

bottleI know ‘binge drinking‘is a huge problem amongst young people in the U.K. and gets a lot of news coverage. I was interested to see this article on Reuters.com suggesting that it’s also a problem in other parts of the world and not just with young people, either. I have mentioned before that I like a couple of beers now and then but I can’t drink too much because it gives me a terrible hangover.

The first interesting piece of vocabulary in this article is ‘binge‘. It can be a noun or a verb and means to do an activity in a very extreme or excessive way, usually so that it has a negative effect. The most common kinds of binges are:

  • drinking binge
  • eating binge
  • spending binge (often also called a ‘spending spree‘)

It is mentioned in the first paragraph that adults also ‘overindulge‘. To ‘indulge‘ is to have or participate in something enjoyable and to ‘overindulge‘ would be to have to much of that thing or spend too much time participating in that activity.

There is some more interesting vocabulary in the seventh paragraph:

“We feel that our findings are important to the public health of middle-aged and elderly persons as they point to a potentially unrecognized problem that often ‘flies beneath‘ the typical screen for alcohol problems in psychiatry practices,” researcher Dan Blazer, of Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, said in a statement.

The phrase ‘flies beneath‘ is probably a shortened form of ‘fly beneath the radar‘ meaning to go undetected and ‘screen‘ means a test to see if there is anything wrong with a person. ‘Screen‘ can be used a noun or verb and we most often use it to talk about detecting illnesses (E.g. she was screened for cancer) or reasons why a person should not be allowed into a company or organisation (E.g. potential candidates were screened before the interview).

Later in the article the author uses the phrase ‘chronic health conditions‘ meaning an illness or health condition is one which is ongoing. It is also mentioned that binge drinking could ‘aggravate‘ these conditions. In this case ‘aggravate‘ means to make the condition worse or more severe.

The last phrase I would like to look at is ‘substance abuse‘. We can use this phrase in two situations. The first is when people use a drug because it gives them some kind of pleasurable effect but is usually damaging to their health. The second is when a drug is used to enhance a person’s athletic ability. This is also often called ‘doping‘.

Is binge drinking a problem in your country?
Today’s photo is by Zsuzsanna Kilián.