View synonyms for half


[ haf ]


, plural halves [havz].
  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).
  3. Sports. either of two equal periods of play, usually with an intermission or rest period separating them. Compare quarter ( def 10 ).
  4. one of two; a part of a pair.
  5. Informal.
    1. the sum of 50 cents:

      Four dimes and two nickels make a half.

  6. 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.
  7. Football. a halfback.
  8. British Informal.
    1. a half-crown coin.
    2. the sum of a half crown; two shillings, sixpence.
    3. 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.

  3. partial or incomplete:

    half measures.


  1. in or to the extent or measure of half.
  2. in part; partly; incompletely:

    half understood.

    Synonyms: partially, somewhat, barely

  3. to some extent; almost:

    half recovered.



/ hɑːf /


    1. either of two equal or corresponding parts that together comprise a whole
    2. a quantity equalling such a part

      half a dozen

  1. half a pint, esp of beer
  2. a small drink of spirits, esp whisky
  3. sport the half of the pitch regarded as belonging to one team
  4. golf an equal score on a hole or round with an opponent
  5. (in various games) either of two periods of play separated by an interval (the first half and second half )
  6. a half-price ticket on a bus, train, etc
  7. short for half-hour
  8. short for halfpenny
  9. sport short for halfback
  10. obsolete.
    a half-year period
  11. better half humorous.
    a person's wife or husband
  12. by half
    by an excessive amount or to an excessive degree

    he's too arrogant by half

  13. by halves
    used with a negative without being thorough or exhaustive

    we don't do things by halves

  14. go halves
    often foll byon, 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 half

      half the kingdom

    2. ( 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
  3. partially; to an extent
  4. half two informal.
    30 minutes after two o'clock
  5. have half a mind to
    to have the intention of
  6. not half informal.
    1. not in any way

      he's not half clever enough

    2. really; very; indeed

      he isn't half stupid

    3. certainly; yes, indeed




  1. one of two equal parts


  2. related by one parent only


  3. not completely; partly


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Grammar Note

See well 1.

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Word History and Origins

Origin of half1

before 900; Middle English; Old English h ( e ) alf; cognate with German Halb, Old Norse halfr, Gothic halbs

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Word History and Origins

Origin of half1

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

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Idioms and Phrases

  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.

  3. half in two, Southern U.S. (chiefly Gulf States). in or into two parts; in half:

    Cut the cake half in two.

  4. in half, divided into halves:

    The vase broke in half.

  5. not half,
    1. not at all; not really:

      His first attempts at painting are not half bad.

  6. not the half of, a significant yet relatively minor part of something that remains to be described in full: Also not half of, not half.

    He accused them of being responsible for the error, and that's not the half of the story.

More idioms and phrases containing half

  • 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
  • halfway
  • halves

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Example Sentences

Eric Garcetti succeeded Villaraigosa and has received high marks in his first year and a half on the job.

My dad was a sailor, and all through my childhood he was away half of the time at sea, and to an extent I have a similar job.

As a result, training squadrons—called Formal Training Units (FTU)—are being staffed with less than half the people they need.

Travel Noire fellows earned about a half million travel miles in 2014.

Murders in the City of Angels have fallen by about half in the last 10 years: no small feat for such a big city.

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

A small book, bound in full purple calf, lay half hidden in a nest of fine tissue paper on the dressing-table.

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

All changes are to be Rang either by walking them (as the term is) or else Whole-pulls, or Half-pulls.

The Vine is a universal favorite, and rarely out of view; while it often seems to cover half the ground in sight.


Related Words

Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

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