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(After Quidditch parctice) The rest of the team hung back to talk to each other as usual at the end of pratice, but Harry headed straight back to the Gryffindor common room, where ...

There are two definitions from Longman LDCE:

1. to stay a short distance away from someone or something, and not go too near them

2. to not say or do something because you are shy or afraid

I can't see any of the two is sensible if put into the sentence.

Thank you
Comments  
It is meaning 1. It means to pursue or follow someone from a short distance behind with or without their knowledge.
hang back: stay/keep reserved, or stay/keep in reserve, thus 1
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Johnleo(After Quidditch parctice) The rest of the team hung back to talk to each other as usual at the end of pratice, but Harry headed straight back to the Gryffindor common room, where ...
I agree with the poster, that there seems to be a third option, which is to refrain from pursuing a course of action, or delay pursuing a course of action. In a way, this is closer to Longman 2., because of the abstention, although fear or shyness are not considerations here.

"Practice is over. Head for the showers!" Some would say this is the "normal" course of action, and the one which Harry chose. The rest of the team is not "keeping their distance" from Harry. They simply have another routine, which is different from what might be expected. The thing they're avoiding, or not doing, is rushing to the showers.

(A couple is outside their appartment where smoking is not allowed. They're enjoying the night air.) "I think I'm going to bed." (reply) "Okay, Dear. I think I'm going to hang back and have one more cigarette." (i.e., I'm not going to follow you.)

- A.
So it means that as Harry went back to the common room, they just talked to each other. And later they would go back to the common room, which is exactly what Harry just did.
JohnleoSo it means that as Harry went back to the common room, they just talked to each other. And later they would go back to the common room, which is exactly what Harry just did.
Yes. They hung back. They did not continue as others (or another) did. They did not proceed or move forward as others (or another) did. They remained behind.

CJ
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