Definition of half in English:

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Pronunciation: /hɑːf/

noun (plural halves /hɑːvz/)

1Either of two equal or corresponding parts into which something is or can be divided: two and a half years the northern half of the island divide the cake in half spending was reduced by half
More example sentences
  • Slice the roll in half the short way, then slice the halves in half.
  • Cut a starfish in half and both halves can recover to produce two starfish.
  • Try a biscuit crust, tortillas, flatbread such as pita, bun halves or a baguette cut in half lengthwise as bases for pizza toppings.
fifty per cent of, bisection of
1.1Either of two equal periods of time into which a sports game or a performance is divided.
Example sentences
  • The visitors side upped their game in the second half when they had got used to the playing surface.
  • That was a rare moment of danger for Sweden, who dominated possession but only seriously looked like scoring in the closing periods of both halves.
  • He later said the first half was his greatest performance as a pro, and no one who saw it could argue.
1.2British informal Half a pint of beer or a similar drink: a half of bitter
More example sentences
  • Seriously, get her to drink a half of stout a day as a basis for any magick she does.
  • Two airline stewardesses were sacked for drinking a half of lager each before a flight.
  • Usually we'd have a half of beer, but on this occasion someone suggested a glass of sherry, because it dried you out.
1.3 informal A half-price fare or ticket, especially for a child.
Example sentences
  • Hey, to the guy who bought a half for 80, you're a moron.
1.4 Golf A score for an individual hole that is the same as one’s opponent’s: she holed from six feet for a half at the seventeenth
More example sentences
  • Scott drove into the rough and had to lay up, but he pitched to six feet and, crucially for his morale, holed for a half to keep him level.
  • The play resumed without penalty and the result of the hole was the half - all square and all to play for.
1.5 short for half back.
Example sentences
  • If he plays half for the Knights today, though, I hope the selectors watch him.
  • He plays half or end.

predeterminer, pronoun, & adjective

1An amount equal to a half: [as predeterminer]: half an hour almost half the children turned up [as pronoun]: half of the lectures are delivered by him [as adjective]: the last half century
More example sentences
  • When continuing a character, pull out attack cards equal to half your STR.
  • Use a complete suit for each player and a number of Jokers equal to about half the players.
  • That may sound strange for a country which faced the prospect of a nuclear holocaust for almost half a century.
1.1An amount thought of as roughly a half: [as predeterminer]: half the audience were blubbing away [as pronoun]: half of them are gatecrashers
More example sentences
  • Nowadays he is on first-name terms with at least half of his audience.
  • I imagine at least half the audience was completely off its gourd so God knows what he was doing to the collective psyche.
  • The emcee is desperate to get us to stay, but half the audience gets up to leave anyway.


1To the extent of half: the glass was half full
More example sentences
  • She was holding a half full glass of Glen Livet in her hand as she stared at the Ocean.
  • And in a quick movement, Matthew and picked his half full bottle of Fanta up and walked out of the vending room.
  • In her kitchen she pulled out a half full container.
1.1 [often in combination] To a certain extent; partly: the chicken is half-cooked I am half inclined to believe you
More example sentences
  • In fact, I'm half inclined to start asking for Italy, just to see if I can do it!
  • A lot of money went into it when the pond was repaired and residents believe it should look half decent.
  • She jumped back slightly against the window half afraid of what he was going to say.
partially, partly, incompletely, inadequately, insufficiently, slightly, barely, in part, part, to a limited extent/degree, in some measure;
not totally, not wholly, not entirely, not fully
to a certain extent/degree, to a limited extent/degree, to some extent/degree, (up) to a point, in part, partly, in some measure;
almost, nearly, very nearly, just about, all but
informal ish



a —— and a half

informal Used to indicate that one considers a particular person or thing to be an impressive example of their kind: Aunt Edie was a woman and a half
More example sentences
  • Someday I'll find a woman and a half and take her hand.
  • You'll have a vacation and a half with that sort of money!

half the battle

see battle.

half a chance

informal The slightest opportunity: given half a chance he can make anything work
More example sentences
  • This pair could intellectualise anything - the teapot, the toast rack, even the toast dust on our breakfast table, if I gave them half a chance - so I don't.
  • Given half a chance, she's rabbiting passionately about cultural strategies, architectural policies and the thorny problem of getting teenage girls into sport.
  • But sick children have only half a chance to be cured six months after birth.

half an eye

see eye.

the half of it

[usually with negative] informal The most important part or aspect of something: you don’t know the half of it
More example sentences
  • And afterwards, she said, ‘You don't know the half of it.’
  • There will be craft and farm produce stalls and this is just the half of it - we are still organising other stalls and events, which will be announced in the near future.
  • Customers used to come into the smithy and say what an interesting old building it was, but that was only the half of it,’ he said.

half one (or two etc.)

informal way of saying half past one .

half past one (or two etc.)

Thirty minutes after one (two, etc.) o’clock.
Example sentences
  • He said, ‘Well, I was asleep between half past one and nine o'clock.’
  • We turned up just before eight o'clock and left at about half past one in the morning.
  • I went in afterwards and the next thing I knew, someone looked at their watch and it was half past two in the morning.

half the time

see time.

not do things by halves

Do things thoroughly or extravagantly.
Example sentences
  • As might be expected from a man who is no stranger to the hundred-piece orchestra, Spiritualized's leader, Jason Pierce, doesn't do things by halves.
  • From the United States - where they don't do things by halves - comes the story of the elderly woman driver about to reverse into a long-sought parking spot, only for three men in a car to drive straight into her place and laugh at her.
  • But I don't do things by halves and I can say that I'm very, very proud to be playing for Scotland; very proud of what we have all achieved.

not half

1Not nearly: he is not half such a fool as they thought
More example sentences
  • I'm pretty sure they're not half as stressed out and burned out as most of the rest of us.
  • Also, I'm sure you're not half as closed off as Jesse is, and even if you are, at least you're aware enough to know about it, which is something Jesse really needs to work on.
  • While certainly not half as funny as their films, Pootie Tang bounces from scene to scene with the attempt to make the viewer laugh at any cost.
2 informal Not at all: the players are not half bad
More example sentences
  • And although I'd deny it if ever asked, being in the spotlight for something other than being the worst player on the ball team was not half bad.
  • Still, he's made sure hardcore TT fans will turn out by co-writing a couple of songs with Gary Barlow - they're not up to Take That standards, but they're not half bad.
  • (I am not half bad on wireline technology either, but my focus has been more on wireless).
not at all, not a bit, not in any way, by no means, absolutely not, most certainly not, not for a moment, not nearly, not the slightest bit, to no extent
3British informal To an extreme degree; very much so: she didn’t half flare up!
More example sentences
  • Well, it's got to be said that while judging the Interactive BAFTAs was fabulously fulfilling experience, I'm not half glad it's over.
  • Anyway, it didn't half give me backache, pulling it.
really, certainly, definitely, decidedly, assuredly, surely, very much, to a great extent, to a considerable extent, for sure, indeed;
undeniably, undoubtedly, indubitably, irrefutably, incontrovertibly, incontestably, unequivocally

too —— by half

British Used to emphasize something considered bad: the idea seems too superstitious by half
More example sentences
  • The problem with stalking is twofold: it is both too conspicuous by half and not conspicuous enough, and in both cases it is not treated with the seriousness it deserves.
  • New Year resolutions are just too sensible by half.
  • While some reviewers have seen it as a bold attempt by Welsh to move out of the druggy ghetto he has built for himself, others have found it trite, tedious and too long by half.
unduly, overly, excessively, exceedingly, inordinately, disproportionately, far too, to too great an extent/degree, by an excessive amount;
enormously, considerably, uncommonly, very, ultra-
informal too-too


Old English half, healf, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch half and German halb (adjectives). The earliest meaning of the Germanic base was 'side', also a noun sense in Old English.

  • The ancient root of half meant ‘side’, and this was the first meaning in English—a half of something was one of its two sides. The phrase at half cock, ‘when only partly ready’, comes from early firearms, and describes a flintlock pistol misfiring. The cock was the lever which was raised into position ready to be released when the trigger was pulled. A pistol at half cock had the lever raised halfway and held by the catch, which in theory ensured that it could not be fired even if the trigger was pulled. Inevitably the occasional pistol would be faulty and go off early, at half cock. See also hang. The halfpenny was the smallest unit of the old British currency from 1961 until decimalization. A halfpennyworth, also spelled ha'p'orth to represent a common pronunciation, was a small amount, and so the proverb don't spoil the ship for a ha'p'orth of tar recorded from 1623, reflects on the miserliness that can spoil something of much greater value. The saying is not nautical, but referred to the use of tar to keep flies off sores on sheep: ship was a dialect pronunciation of sheep.

Words that rhyme with half

barf, behalf, calf, chaff, coif, giraffe, Graf, graph, laugh, scarf, scrum half, staff, strafe, wing half

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: half

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