[haf, hahf]

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




    by half, by very much; by far: She was too talented by half for her routine role.
    half again as much/many, as much as 50 percent more: This mug holds half again as much coffee as the smaller one.
    half in two, Southern U.S. (chiefly Gulf States ). in or into two parts; in half: Cut the cake half in two.
    in half, divided into halves: The vase broke in half.
    not half,
    1. not at all; not really: His first attempts at painting are not half bad.
    2. half(def 20).
    not the half of, a significant yet relatively minor part of something that remains to be described in full: He accused them of being responsible for the error, and that's not the half of the story.Also not half of, not half.

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

Examples from the Web for half

Contemporary Examples of half

Historical Examples of half

  • Moreover, I believe, dearest Eudora, that half your wrongs are in your own imagination.


    Lydia Maria Child

  • Half a dozen of Percival's friends sat at the table with them from time to time.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • "Nothing but a half loaf, and that's dry enough," muttered the stranger.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • The ball of red fire in the west was half below the rim of the distant peak.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • I threw off all reserve--about half a pound, I should judge.

British Dictionary definitions for half


noun plural halves (hɑːvz)

  1. either of two equal or corresponding parts that together comprise a whole
  2. a quantity equalling such a parthalf a dozen
half a pint, esp of beer
Scot a small drink of spirits, esp whisky
sport the half of the pitch regarded as belonging to one team
golf an equal score on a hole or round with an opponent
(in various games) either of two periods of play separated by an interval (the first half and second half)
a half-price ticket on a bus, train, etc
short for half-hour
sport short for halfback
obsolete a half-year period
better half jocular a person's wife or husband
by half by an excessive amount or to an excessive degreehe's too arrogant by half
by halves (used with a negative) without being thorough or exhaustivewe don't do things by halves
go halves (often foll by on, in, etc)
  1. to share the expenses (of something with one other person)
  2. to share the whole amount (of something with another person)to go halves on an orange


  1. being a half or approximately a halfhalf the kingdom
  2. (as pronoun; functioning as sing or plural)half of them came


not perfect or complete; partialhe only did a half job on it


to the amount or extent of a half
to a great amount or extent
partially; to an extent
half two informal 30 minutes after two o'clock
have half a mind to to have the intention of
not half informal
  1. not in any wayhe's not half clever enough
  2. Britishreally; very; indeedhe isn't half stupid
  3. certainly; yes, indeed
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 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 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.