[ haf, hahf ]
See synonyms for: halfhalves on Thesaurus.com

noun,plural halves [havz, hahvz]. /hævz, hɑvz/.
  1. one of two equal or approximately equal parts of a divisible whole, as an object, or unit of measure or time; a part of a whole equal or almost equal to the remainder.

  2. a quantity or amount equal to such a part (½).

  1. Sports. either of two equal periods of play, usually with an intermission or rest period separating them.: Compare quarter (def. 10).

  2. one of two; a part of a pair.

  3. Informal.

    • the sum of 50 cents: Four dimes and two nickels make a half.

  4. Baseball. either of the two units of play into which an inning is divided, the visiting team batting in the first unit and the home team batting in the second.

  5. Football. a halfback.

  6. British Informal.

    • a half-crown coin.

    • the sum of a half crown; two shillings, sixpence.

    • a half pint: He ordered a half of ale.

  1. being one of two equal or approximately equal parts of a divisible whole: a half quart.

  2. being half or about half of anything in degree, amount, length, etc.: at half speed; half sleeve.

  1. partial or incomplete: half measures.

  1. in or to the extent or measure of half.

  2. in part; partly; incompletely: half understood.

  1. to some extent; almost: half recovered.

Idioms about half

  1. by half, by very much; by far: She was too talented by half for her routine role.

  2. half again as much / many, as much as 50 percent more: This mug holds half again as much coffee as the smaller one.

  1. half in two, Southern U.S. (chiefly Gulf States). in or into two parts; in half: Cut the cake half in two.

  2. in half, divided into halves: The vase broke in half.

  3. not half,

    • not at all; not really: His first attempts at painting are not half bad.

  4. 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

Grammar notes for half

See well1.

Other words for half

Words Nearby half

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use half in a sentence

  • It is the principal waste-product of metabolism, and constitutes about one-half of all the solids excreted—about 30 gm.

    A Manual of Clinical Diagnosis | James Campbell Todd
  • A small book, bound in full purple calf, lay half hidden in a nest of fine tissue paper on the dressing-table.

    Hilda Lessways | Arnold Bennett
  • Hilda, trembling at the door, more than half expected Mr. Orgreave to say: "You mean, she's invited herself."

    Hilda Lessways | Arnold Bennett
  • All changes are to be Rang either by walking them (as the term is) or else Whole-pulls, or half-pulls.

    Tintinnalogia, or, the Art of Ringing | Richard Duckworth and Fabian Stedman
  • The Vine is a universal favorite, and rarely out of view; while it often seems to cover half the ground in sight.

    Glances at Europe | Horace Greeley

British Dictionary definitions for half (1 of 2)


/ (hɑːf) /

nounplural halves (hɑːvz)
    • either of two equal or corresponding parts that together comprise a whole

    • a quantity equalling such a part: half a dozen

  1. half a pint, esp of beer

  1. Scot a small drink of spirits, esp whisky

  2. sport the half of the pitch regarded as belonging to one team

  3. golf an equal score on a hole or round with an opponent

  4. (in various games) either of two periods of play separated by an interval (the first half and second half)

  5. a half-price ticket on a bus, train, etc

  6. short for half-hour

  7. sport short for halfback

  8. obsolete a half-year period

  9. better half jocular a person's wife or husband

  10. by half by an excessive amount or to an excessive degree: he's too arrogant by half

  11. by halves (used with a negative) without being thorough or exhaustive: we don't do things by halves

  12. go halves (often foll by on, in, etc)

    • 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 half: half the kingdom

    • (as pronoun; functioning as sing or plural): half of them came

  1. not perfect or complete; partial: he only did a half job on it

  1. to the amount or extent of a half

  2. to a great amount or extent

  1. partially; to an extent

  2. half two informal 30 minutes after two o'clock

  3. have half a mind to to have the intention of

  4. not half informal

    • not in any way: he's not half clever enough

    • British really; very; indeed: he isn't half stupid

    • certainly; yes, indeed

Origin of half

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

Other words from half

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

British Dictionary definitions for half- (2 of 2)


  1. one of two equal parts: half-moon

  2. related by one parent only: half-sister

  1. not completely; partly: half-hardy

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

Other 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.