- a combining form borrowed from Latin, meaning “half,” freely prefixed to English words of any origin, now sometimes with the senses “partially,” “incompletely,” “somewhat”: semiautomatic; semidetached; semimonthly; semisophisticated.
Origin of semi-
Word Origin and History for semi-
before vowels sem-, word-forming element meaning "half, part, partly; partial, imperfect; twice," from Latin semi- "half," from PIE *semi- "half" (cf. Sanskrit sami "half," Greek hemi- "half," Old English sam-, Gothic sami- "half").
Old English cognate sam- was used in such compounds as samhal "poor health," literally "half-whole;" samsoden "half-cooked," figuratively "stupid" (cf. half-baked); samcucu "half-dead," literally "half-alive;" and the last survivor of the group, sandblind "dim-sighted" (q.v.). Common in Latin (e.g. semi-gravis "half-drunk," semi-hora "half hour," semi-mortuus "half-dead," semi-nudus "half-naked," semi-vir "half-man, hermaphrodite"). The Latin-derived form in English has been active in forming native words since 15c.
- Partial; partially:semiconscious.
- Resembling or having some of the characteristics of:semilunar.
- A prefix that means half, (as in semicircle, half a circle) or partly, somewhat, less than fully, (as in semiconscious, partly conscious).