early 14c., "loose, hanging part of anything," from Anglo-French pendaunt "hanging" (c. 1300), Old French pendant (13c.), noun use of present participle of pendre "to hang," from Latin pendere "to hang," from PIE *(s)pend-, extended form of root *(s)pen- "to draw, stretch, spin." Meaning "dangling part of an earring" is attested from 1550s. Nautical sense of "tapering flag" is recorded from late 15c. "In this sense presumably a corruption of pennon" [OED].
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