hang back


hung back; hanging back; hangs back

intransitive verb

: to drag behind others
: to be reluctant

Examples of hang back in a Sentence

even though the young mother wanted the job, she still hung back because she wasn't sure if she should spend time away from her family
Recent Examples on the Web Well, not all of them, because in a devastating move, Paige chose to hang back in the States rather than return to Russia with her parents. Ew Staff Published, EW.com, 3 May 2024 Demonstrations that snarled Golden Gate Bridge, I-880 spur questions about tougher penalties Police arrest dozens of pro-Palestinian protesters at Columbia The Jewish students from Tikvah: Students for Israel and Students Supporting Israel hung back and largely kept to themselves during the event. Sierra Lopez, The Mercury News, 23 Apr. 2024 On Valentine’s Day, Bortolami — who’s regarded as one of the league’s most formidable players — hung back to let a handful of original members steer the evening. Julia Halperin, New York Times, 8 Mar. 2024 James shared a big hug with Natalia Bryant, 19, and also hugged Bianka Bella, 6, while Capri, 3, hung back shyly behind Natalia. Angela Andaloro, Peoplemag, 21 Feb. 2023 In a shock ending, Lopez asks one member to hang back — not Affleck. Antonia Debianchi, Peoplemag, 12 Feb. 2024 Kushner has been relegated to a behind-the-scenes role now after his father-in-law reportedly asked him to hang back. Noah Rothman, National Review, 2 Feb. 2024 Gary Carr’s Clyde X hangs back and judges Malcolm X and then doesn’t really do anything because even though Clyde X was a real figure, he’s been morphed into a composite. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 31 Jan. 2024 The little girl simply did not want to head out the door to summer camp, finding any and all excuses to hang back. Maureen Salamon, Chicago Tribune, 16 Aug. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'hang back.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1581, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of hang back was in 1581

Dictionary Entries Near hang back

Cite this Entry

“Hang back.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hang%20back. Accessed 20 May. 2024.

Kids Definition

hang back

: to linger behind others
hung back to wait for the slower children
: to be unwilling to do something : hesitate
always hangs back when everyone else is dancing
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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