Would you like to ask someone how it’s going with them in the most casual, cool way that you can think of? The phrase ‘how’s it hanging?’ can be used to ask someone how they’re doing today, and the common saying has made a popular comeback thanks to social media and pop culture. This post unpacks the meaning and origin of the phrase.
The common phrase ‘how’s it hanging?’ is used as a direct question to ask someone how they are personallly doing, or to ask someone how something nonspecific or already specified is going.
The phrase is completely informal, and professional use of the phrase is discouraged – for example – when speaking to serious clients or customers. The English phrase is reserved for close friends in a colloquial, laid-back setting.
The phrase has the exact same meaning as to ask someone ‘how’s it going?’ or ‘how are you doing?’ though is considered a more informal version of both.
The term can be used as a patronizing question from the speaker, which implies that either the speaker knows that it’s not going well, or does not care about the recipient’s answer in the conversation.
When it is used as a sarcastic phrase, the meaning is usually clear from the rest of what’s being said (or for humorous reasons, obvious from the context).
When used in pop culture references, joking or sarcastic meaning of the phrase is common.
“I hadn’t seen the guy in years, so when I found him working at the burger joint the first thing that I wanted to know was: how’s it hanging?”
“There was my dad, standing there naked with shampoo still in his hair. The first thing my boyfriend asked was, ‘how’s it hanging?’”
“How’s it hanging? I mean, I can see that you’ve crashed the hard drive by looking at too many adult sites, so I guess I shouldn’t have to ask.”
“How’s it hanging, dad? I know it’s after surgery and all, but I just wanted to know how it’s going with you and the rest of the fam.”
According to most online etymology resources, the phrase ‘how’s it hanging?’ first achieved the height of its usage popularity in the mid-1980s.
The first use of the term is likely to have been on television sitcoms of the time, and it’s likely to have been picked up into general conversation after its use. The term would later appear in dictionaries from the nineties, and online language resources thanks to its use on early message boards.
Use of the term has experienced highs and lows, with usage going up when the term is referenced in popular culture or as a catchphrase.
The phrase has made popular on the internet, and the first mention of it on Urban Dictionary appears in 2005 (even though usage of the phrase predates this event).
Phrases Similar to How’s It Hanging?
- How’s it going?
Phrases Opposite to How’s It Hanging?
What is the Correct Saying?
- How’s it hanging?
Ways People May Say How’s It Hanging? Incorrectly
There are several ways in which someone might misunderstand the meaning of the phrase ‘how’s it hanging?’ or use the term in the wrong context.
The term is meant to be used as an informal (and sometimes sarcastic) means of asking people how they are doing. Sarcastic use of the phrase is usually clear from the rest of what’s being said (e.g. it is already obvious to the speaker how things are going).
Asking ‘how are things hanging?’ is a more literal use of the phrase that can have further humorous implications that can be unintentional if someone is not familiar with the term.
Acceptable Ways to Phrase How’s It Hanging?
The phrase ‘how’s it hanging?’ can be used to ask someone the informal equivalent of ‘how’s it going?’, or the term can carry sarcastic or joking meaning if the answer is already obvious to the speaker.