from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun One of two equal parts that together constitute a whole.
  • noun One part approximately equal to the remaining part.
  • noun Informal A 50-cent piece.
  • noun One of the two playing periods into which certain games are divided.
  • noun A halfback.
  • noun Chiefly British A school term; a semester.
  • noun Half an hour.
  • adjective Being one of two equal parts.
  • adjective Being approximately a half.
  • adjective Partial or incomplete.
  • adverb To the extent of exactly or nearly 50 percent.
  • adverb Not completely or sufficiently; partly.
  • idiom (by half) By a considerable extent.
  • idiom (by half) By an excessive amount.
  • idiom (by halves) In a reluctant manner; unenthusiastically.
  • idiom (many/much) One-and-a-half times as much or as many; 50 percent more.
  • idiom (in half) Into halves.
  • idiom (not half) Not at all.
  • idiom (not the half of) Only a fraction or a small part of.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • An erroneous form of haft.
  • In an equal part or degree; by half; hence, in part; to some extent: much used in composition, and often indefinite: as, half-baked; half-dead; half-educated; half-starved.
  • Being one of two equal parts; consisting of a moiety: as, a half share in an enterprise; a half ticket in a lottery.
  • noun A side; a part.
  • noun Part; behalf; account; sake.
  • noun One of two equal parts of anything that is divisible, or that may be regarded as divisible; a moiety: usually not followed by of unless preceded by a qualifying word: as, half the miseries or pleasures of life; half a pound; half an orange; the half, one half, or the other half of an orange.
  • noun Among schoolboys in England, a session; the term between vacations: a contraction of half-year. Sometimes there are three “halves” in the year.
  • noun In foot-ball, a half-back. See back, n., 12.
  • To divide into halves; halve; hence, loosely, to separate into parts of any relative size.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adverb In an equal part or degree; in some part approximating a half; partially; imperfectly.
  • noun obsolete Part; side; behalf.
  • noun One of two equal parts into which anything may be divided, or considered as divided; -- sometimes followed by of.
  • noun See under Better.
  • noun [Colloq.] in two; an expression sometimes used improperly instead of in halves or into halves.
  • noun [Obs.] in one's behalf; on one's part.
  • noun to claim an equal share with another.
  • noun to share equally between two.
  • adjective Consisting of a moiety, or half
  • adjective Consisting of some indefinite portion resembling a half; approximately a half, whether more or less; partial; imperfect
  • adjective (Zoöl.) a lemur.
  • adjective (Football) See under 2d Back.
  • adjective the first notch, for the sear point to enter, in the tumbler of a gunlock; the halfcock notch.
  • adjective a style of bookbinding in which only the back and corners are in leather.
  • adjective one who boards in part; specifically, a scholar at a boarding school who takes dinner only.
  • adjective (Shipbuilding) a horizontal plan of one half a vessel, divided lengthwise, showing the lines.
  • adjective (Mus.) a cadence on the dominant.
  • adjective [Obs.] a slight salute with the cap.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, from Old English healf; see skel- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Old English healf ('half'); as a noun, 'half', 'side', 'part'; akin to Old Saxon, Old Friesian, and Dutch half, German halb, Swedish half, Danish halv, Icelandic hálfur and Gothic 𐌷𐌰𐌻𐌱𐍃 (halbs). Compare halve, behalf.


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word half.


  • Yes Fr Guy's leaving his up until the Baptism of Our Lord..ours are half up..half down!

    Epiphany... Joanna Bogle 2008

  • At the end of the three and a half years (_half_ of the covenant time) he orders the Sacrifice to cease in the Temple at

    The Mark of the Beast Sidney Watson

  • 'Only half so good, Mr. Kirke,' rejoined the black, showing a set of teeth which a dentist might have used for a door plate; 'only _half_ so good,' case I'se only half white.

    The Continental Monthly, Vol. 3 No 2, February 1863 Devoted To Literature And National Policy Various

  • What say you, then, to the fact, that whilst the outer half is devoted to an advertisement of Mr Reprint's imitative publications, the _better half_ contains a bold and faithful warning against such piracy!

    Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine - Volume 62, No. 384, October 1847 Various

  • I mind one super-tunic she gave me, but half worn, "-- this was said impressively, for a garment only _half worn_ was considered a fit gift from one peeress to another --" of blue damask, all set with silver buttons, and broidered with ladies 'heads along the border.

    A Forgotten Hero Not for Him Emily Sarah Holt 1864

  • Thus when we consider the unexplored basilar and interior regions, and that half of its exterior surface which was erroneously appropriated to the thirty-five organs, as well as the erroneous location of several, we perceive that _more than half_ of the organs and functions of the brain remained for investigation.

    Buchanan's Journal of Man, October 1887 Volume 1, Number 9 1856

  • If I had a financial institute and was able to borrow £10 Billion from the B O E at a half% interest and then loaned half to another bank at say 5. 5% and the other half to Business customers at say 14% over a 12 month period how much profit would I make?

    Army Rumour Service 2009

  • Half our heart is here, half there; our need and ache are severed from their help and answer; the tender blue waits far off for the eager, asking red; yet just as surely as His light shines on, and our life moves under it, so surely, across whatever gulf, the beauty shall all be one again; so surely does it even now move all together, perfect and close always under His eye, who never sends a _half_ ray anywhere.

    Real Folks 1865

  • The owners of the hackeries were expected to purchase bhoosa and other fodder for their bullocks at the market price; but they took what they required without payment, in _collusion with_ the officers under whom they were employed, or in _spite_ of them; and the Oude Government in 1845 cut the allowance down to seventeen rupees and half, out of which _three rupees and half_ are cut for perquisites, leaving fourteen rupees for the hackeries: and their owners and drivers have the free privilege of helping themselves to bhoosa and other fodder wherever they can find them.

    A Journey through the Kingdom of Oude, Volumes I & II William Sleeman 1822

  • And you'll let me have tea for them, -- just bread and butter and a bun, -- it will cost not half as much as my new dress this week, not _half_ as much -- "

    The Unclassed George Gissing 1880


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • April 12, 2009