It can be used in a wide variety of situations, with friends, family members, and coworkers. It may fluctuate slightly depending on the context, but it’s likely to be encouraging to those who hear it. “Hang in there” should inspire someone to work just a little bit harder to improve their situation.
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“Hang in there” Meaning
“Hang in there” is an idiom that’s used to inspire those who are about to give up on something.
One person might use it to tell another that they need to stick something out or work a little harder to get to their desired goal. One might also use it to inspire themselves, for example, as a part of positive self-talk. Most commonly, it’s used to tell someone, if they just last a little longer or hang on a little longer, that they’re going to be successful.
The origins of “hang in there” are not entirely clear. But, it rose to popularity after its use on a popular 1970s poster that featured a cat hanging on a bamboo pole. This is a perfect example of how phrases make their way into contemporary speech. But, it was likely used before then in a range of different situations.
Like most idioms, it’s likely that this one evolved over time. Words within these phrases often change and shift depending on what the English language favors at one time or another.
Why Do People Use “Hang in there?”
People use “hang in there” when they want to inspire someone to work a little harder. It can be used among friends, family members, and close colleagues. It can, if used in the wrong context or with the wrong tone, be interpreted as patronizing. If one uses it with their superior, for example, at work, then that person might feel as though they’re being disrespected. Or, in another situation, if one partner uses it with a patronizing tone, the other might feel as if they’re being talked down to or treated like a child.
But, more often than not, it’s a welcomed statement of encouragement. For example, one friend might use the following sentence “If you just hang in there a little longer I’m sure it’s going to work out.” That friend should be bolstered by encouragement. It’s usually used with good intentions.
- Just hang in there a little longer.
- Things are going to work out if you hang in there.
- He hung in there and things worked out.
- After hanging in there for a while longer, everything worked out.
- I kept telling myself to hang in there and I knew it would work out.
- I hung in there as long as I could, but I couldn’t wait anymore.
Why Do Writers Use “Hang in there”
Writers use “hang in there” in a wide variety of situations. It can be used in a dialogue between two characters or within a narrator’s description of a scene. It is a common part of speech and therefore, many readers, if not all readers are going to know exactly what it means. It can also help a writer make their work feel more realistic. If readers come across a phrase they used in their everyday life, they’re more likely to relate to the dialogue and find it believable. But, at the same time, it’s also possible that idioms, and proverbs, get overused and feel cliché to readers. If this occurs, it’s more likely that the dialogue a writer uses is going to feel unbelievable.
People use “hang in there” when they want to encourage someone else to work hard and persevere through a tough situation. They might use it when helping a friend through a tough situation or when attempting to encourage a family member.
The idiom originated sometime in the 1900s, but its origin is unclear. It was popularized through its use on a poster common in the 1970s and is still seen to this day.
Yes, “hang in there” is an idiom. It is a phrase that has a different meaning than its words convey on a surface level.
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- “A perfect storm”
- “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket”
- “Beat a dead horse”
- “Call it a day”