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half-mast

[haf-mast, hahf-mahst]
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noun
  1. a position approximately halfway between the top of a mast, staff, etc., and its base.
verb (used with object)
  1. to place (a flag) at half-mast, as a mark of respect for the dead or as a signal of distress.

Origin of half-mast

First recorded in 1620–30
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for half-mast

half-mast

noun
  1. the lower than normal position to which a flag is lowered on a mast as a sign of mourning or distress
verb
  1. (tr) to put (a flag) in this position
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for half-mast

1620s, from half + mast (n.1).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper