early 15c., "one who hangs (something)," especially "executioner," later also "one who chooses pictures for an exhibition;" agent noun from hang (v.). Meaning "something that is suspended" is late 15c. Meaning "thing from which something is hung" is from 1690s. Meaning "loop or strap in a garment for hanging on a peg" is from 1680s; of wood or wire coat or dress hangers from 1873. Hanger-on is from 1540s.