What is a 'Hanging Man'

A hanging man is a bearish candlestick pattern that forms at the end of an uptrend. It is created when there is a significant sell-off near the market open, but buyers are able to push this stock back up so that it closes at or near the opening price. Generally, the large sell-off is seen as an early indication that the bulls (buyers) are losing control and demand for the asset is waning.

Hanging Man


The hanging man formation does not mean that the bulls have definitively lost control, but it may be an early sign that the momentum is decreasing and the direction of the asset may be getting ready to change. Hanging man formations can be more easily identified in intraday charts than daily charts and are a very popular formation used by day traders. If this pattern is found at the end of a downtrend, it is known as a "hammer".

A hanging man candle is identical to the "hammer" candle in its shape but forms at the top of an uptrend indicating a price peak and potential reversion/reversal. While it is traditionally considered a bearish candle, it can also be a continuation candle that sucks in short-sellers and bears and then proceeds to squeeze the price higher. When a pattern becomes too familiar or expected, the market will often form the opposite reaction. This can be expected in a minus sum environment like the financial markets. Therefore, hanging man candles must be approached with several confirmation indicators to determine if it is a bearish reversal signal or a bullish continuation signal in each scenario.

Anatomy of a Hanging Man Candlestick

The candle should have a small body near or at the top of the candle and a large tail or lower shadow that should be at least twice the size of the body. The candle color can be green or red. A red candle close is considered more bearish. The more important detail is the context of the preceding candles leading up to the hanging man and the candles afterward.

Bearish Hanging Man

Typically considered a bearish candlestick, an ideal scenario would be preceding series of at least three or more bullish green candles with higher highs. In the aforementioned structure with a small body and long tail, the hanging man candle should form at the top. The next candle needs to close under the body low, preferably at or below the tail.

The bearish reversal trigger forms when the price falls under the low point of the candle following that hanging man. For example, if XYZ forms a hanging man candle that closes red at $49.50 with a body high of $49.60 with a low of $48.90 (lower tail) and the next candle closes at $49.30 with a high of $49.50 and a low of $48.70 (lower tail), then the reversal confirmation forms when the price falls under $48.79. If the price exceeds the high of the hanging man, then it confirms a bullish uptrend continuation.

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