c. 1300, "the axis of the earth;" late 14c. as "movable joint of a gate or door," not found in Old English, cognate with Middle Dutch henghe "hook, handle," Middle Low German henge "hinge," from Proto-Germanic *hanhan (transitive), *hangen (intransitive), from PIE *konk- "to hang" (see hang (v.)). The notion is the thing from which a door hangs. Figurative sense of "that on which events, etc., turn" is from c.1600. Stamp-collecting sense is from 1883.