[haf, hahf]

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



Nearby words

  1. haler,
  2. halesowen,
  3. halevi,
  4. haley,
  5. haley, alex,
  6. half a heart, with,
  7. half a loaf is better than none,
  8. half a mind,
  9. half and half nail,
  10. half bath


Origin of half

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

Grammar note

See well1.

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

Examples from the Web for half

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.