noun, plural halves [havz, hahvz] /hævz, hɑvz/.
- half dollar.
- the sum of 50 cents: Four dimes and two nickels make a half.
- not at all; not really: His first attempts at painting are not half bad.
- half(def 20).
Origin of half
British Dictionary definitions for by half
noun plural halves (hɑːvz)
- either of two equal or corresponding parts that together comprise a whole
- a quantity equalling such a parthalf a dozen
- to share the expenses (of something with one other person)
- to share the whole amount (of something with another person)to go halves on an orange
- being a half or approximately a halfhalf the kingdom
- (as pronoun; functioning as sing or plural)half of them came
- not in any wayhe's not half clever enough
- British really; very; indeedhe isn't half stupid
- certainly; yes, indeed
Word Origin for half
Word Origin and History for by half
Old English half, halb (Mercian), healf (W. Saxon) "side, part," not necessarily of equal division (original sense preserved in behalf), noun, adjective, and adverb all in Old English, from Proto-Germanic *khalbas "something divided" (cf. Old Saxon halba, Old Norse halfr, Old Frisian, Middle Dutch half, German halb, Gothic halbs "half"), perhaps from PIE (s)kel- "to cut."
Used also in Old English phrases as in modern German, to mean "one half unit less than," e.g. þridda healf "two and a half," literally "half third." The construction in two and a half, etc., is first recorded c.1200. Of time, in half past ten, etc., first attested 1750; in Scottish, the half often is prefixed to the following hour, as in German (e.g. halb elf "ten thirty"). To go off half-cocked "speak or act too hastily" (1833) is in allusion to firearms going off prematurely.
Idioms and Phrases with by half (1 of 2)
Considerably, a great deal, as in He was too good a cook by half for this small restaurant. [c. a.d. 1000] Contrast by halves.
Idioms and Phrases with by half (2 of 2)
In addition to the idioms beginning with half
- half a heart, with
- half a loaf is better than none
- half a mind
- half of it
- half the battle
- at half-mast
- better half
- by half
- glass is half full
- go halfway
- go off (half-cocked)
- in half
- not bad (half bad)
- six of one, half dozen of the other
- time and a half
- with half an eye
Also see underhalfwayhalves.