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keep (one) dangling

To maintain some form of relationship with someone without revealing one's true feelings or intentions; to keep someone in an uncertain position. If you don't want to marry him, then you have to tell him that—you can't keep him dangling any longer! A: "I'm never going to get a promotion, am I?" B: "With the way the boss keeps you dangling, I doubt it."
See also: dangling, keep

dangle from (something)

To hang loosely from something, as if likely to fall. Can you straighten that picture before it falls? It's just dangling from the nail.
See also: dangle

keep someone dangling

keep someone, especially a would-be suitor, in an uncertain position.
See also: dangling, keep
References in classic literature ?
Then he pushed him in head first, tied up the sack, and soon swung up the searcher after wisdom dangling in the air.
You see, you had not replaced the receiver; it was dangling over you where you lay.
So Robin, with all the empty road to himself, strode along whistling merrily, his bags and pouches bobbing and dangling at his thighs.
So, after a while, the Corn Engrosser came riding up to where Robin sat; whereupon merry Robin stepped straightway forth, in all his rags and tatters, his bags and pouches dangling about him, and laid his hand upon the horse's bridle rein, calling upon the other to stop.
He seemed to forget the hatchet dangling by its aurochs-hide thong at his hip, as I forgot, for the moment, the dagger in my hand.
He did not, for there was always the vision of Bertrade de Montfort before him; and now another vision arose that would effectually have sealed his lips had not the other--he saw the Outlaw of Torn dangling by his neck from a wooden gibbet.
Her face was averted and her arms were outstretched toward the dangling form that swung and twisted from the grim, gaunt arm.
And through it all, on moccasined feet, moved Daylight, hell-roaring Burning Daylight, over-spilling with good nature and camaraderie, howling his he-wolf howl and claiming the night as his, bending men's arms down on the bars, performing feats of strength, his bronzed face flushed with drink, his black eyes flashing, clad in overalls and blanket coat, his ear-flaps dangling and his gauntleted mittens swinging from the cord across the shoulders.
There I was, sitting on the edge of the bunk, my legs dangling down, when the locomotives came together.
The babe sat with his feet dangling high from a precarious infant chair and gorged his small stomach.
Opening the rickety gate which, dangling on its broken hinges before one of these, half admitted and half repulsed the visitor, Nicholas knocked at the street door with a faltering hand.
Sophia seeing his left arm dangling by his side, while he was using the other to lead her, no longer doubted of the truth.
And it would be ten times better for your uncle (to go no farther afield) if he were dangling decently upon a gibbet.
The murderer swung lifeless against the wall; and the boy, thrusting aside the dangling body which obscured his view, called to the people to come and take him out, for God's sake.
Perhaps his imperturbable character was never more strikingly developed, for he preserved his usual equable smile notwithstanding that his body was dangling in a most uncomfortable position, all loose and limp and shapeless, while his long peaked cap, unequally balanced against his exceedingly slight legs, threatened every instant to bring him toppling down.