hanger vs. hangar

What is the difference between hanger and hangar?

The word hanger is formed by attaching the suffix of agency “-er” to the verb hang—it is a person or thing that performs the action of hanging or to which something is hung. For example:
  • “Please put your coat on a hanger so it doesn’t get wrinkled.”
  • “I’ve hired a professional painting hanger to find the perfect spot for my latest piece.”
The noun hangar, though, is not formed using a suffix with a base verb; rather, it is derived directly from French and has a very specific meaning: “a shelter, workshop, or other structure in which aircraft are stored,” as in:
  • “There seems to be an issue with the engine, so we’re bringing the plane back to the hangar for maintenance.”
Because this word is used in such a specific context, it can be easy to mistakenly use the much more common hanger instead (especially as they have the same pronunciation, /ˈhæŋər/). When determining which spelling is correct, it’s important to keep in mind that the “-er” denotes the agent of an action; if the noun we’re writing is not associated with the action of hanging, then the correct spelling is probably going to be hangar.
Get all volumes of The Farlex Grammar Book in paperback or eBook.
Share Tweet