half

[ haf, hahf ]
/ hæf, hɑf /
||

noun, plural halves [havz, hahvz] /hævz, hɑvz/.

adjective

adverb

Idioms

Origin of half

before 900; Middle English; Old English h(e)alf; cognate with German Halb, Old Norse halfr, Gothic halbs
SYNONYMS FOR half
13 barely, somewhat, partially; sort of.

Grammar note

See well1.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for by half

Related formsRelated prefixes: bi-, demi-, hemi-, semi-

Word Origin for half

Old English healf; related to Old Norse halfr, Old High German halb, Dutch half
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 by half

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with by half (1 of 2)

by half


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)

half


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

also see:

  • 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.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.