early 14c., "loose, hanging part of anything," from Anglo-French pendaunt "hanging" (c.1300), Old French pendant (13c.), noun use of present participle of pendre "to hang," from Latin pendere "to hang," from PIE root *(s)pen(d)- "to pull, draw, stretch" (see span (v.)). Meaning "dangling part of an earring" is attested from 1550s. Nautical sense of "tapering flag" is recorded from late 15c. "In this sense presumably a corruption of pennon" [OED].