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Dr. Goodword
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Postby Dr. Goodword » Tue Jul 31, 2012 10:58 pm

• hanker •

Pronunciation: hæng-kêr • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, intransitive

Meaning: (Slang) To moderately desire, to want; to long for.

Notes: Today's Good Word is an intransitive verb, which means that you cannot hanker anything. Rather, like most intransitive verbs, hanker must be used with a preposition, in this case for or after: we hanker for or after something. Even though it is a borrowing (see Word History), this word behaves like a native English verb: hankers, hankered, hankering, with the last serving also as the noun (to have a hankering for).

In Play: Hankering implies a moderate desire: "I can eat broccoli, but I don't hanker for any right now." While this word does not imply a strong or persistent desire, we can make it into one with the right modifiers: "I could still get into my high school bikini if I didn't have this chronic hankering for chocolate ice cream."

Word History: Today's slang word appears to have come from a Dutch dialectal verb, hankeren, with the same meaning. The Proto-Indo-European root underlying it is konk-/kenk "to hang", also the source of English hang and hinge. The meaning shift from "hang" to "hanker" might have come by way of the concept "to have a hang-up", though a hang-up is a much stronger desire than a hankering. This root turns up most frequently in Germanic languages like German, Dutch, and English, but there is evidence of it in Latin cunctari "to delay", the origin of English cunctation "delay, procrastination". (I am sure we have no hankering to delay expressing our gratitude to Tonia Koularia, author of Aerobic Poetry, for suggesting today's Good Word.)
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Perry Lassiter
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Postby Perry Lassiter » Tue Jul 31, 2012 11:32 pm

Doggone it! Now you got me started thinking about "hang-up." you imply that a hang-up is a strong hankering. I think of it more as a coloquial term for a mild neurosis or OCD. I have a hang-up about ______, and I hardly ever want them around. How do you all use it?

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Postby LukeJavan8 » Wed Aug 01, 2012 11:51 am

I'm pretty much of the same mind.
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Postby call_copse » Thu Aug 02, 2012 9:22 am

Agreed, hang-ups are generally things that get my goat.

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Postby Philip Hudson » Fri Aug 03, 2012 11:46 pm

I don't know that I have any hang-ups, but I do more than my share of hankering. I tend to identify the word hang-up the way Perry and Luke do.
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Postby Slava » Sat Aug 04, 2012 12:39 am

The dictionary in which I looked this up gives its meaning as something that causes a delay or other form of interference: a hang-up in our plans kind of idea. I can see how this would lead to the expanded meaning of something that causes difficulties in life. Another dictionary puts forth the idea of: "his hang-up in life is trying to be better than his brother."
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