Definition of half in English:



  • 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’
    • ‘Cut the baguette in half lengthways and spread each half with the coriander butter.’
    • ‘And tell your husband that you are going to cut the time you spend in the kitchen by half or even more.’
    • ‘Try a biscuit crust, tortillas, flatbread such as pita, bun halves or a baguette cut in half lengthwise as bases for pizza toppings.’
    • ‘Divide the ground meats by half and pass one half through the grinder for a second time.’
    • ‘We drew a circle with a horizontal line drawn to divide it in half in the top half of our paper.’
    • ‘According to the plan you can reduce waste by a half or more by composting.’
    • ‘Yes, the Park will be bigger but, unfortunately, it will be split in half and surely that is the whole point of this debate.’
    • ‘Do they represent two halves of the same individual or different people?’
    • ‘Cut dough into four equal pieces, cut each piece in half, and roll each piece into a ball.’
    • ‘This damage was only found in half of the pivot, the north half where rye was planted.’
    • ‘Her smile grew wider as she put the halves together and ripped it once more in half.’
    • ‘The upper and lower halves of this box correspond not to waist up and waist down, but to left and right on the dancer's body.’
    • ‘You can figure out how much water you need to drink each day by dividing your weight in half.’
    • ‘Albany could easily cut this subsidy at least in half and still pay for real charity care.’
    • ‘Briefly, the femurs were cut in half at the middle of diaphysis and the proximal halves were discarded.’
    • ‘Cut a starfish in half and both halves can recover to produce two starfish.’
    • ‘Divide the mixture in half and mould into two sausage shapes, each about 20 cm long.’
    • ‘This was the first match of the second half of the season that last saw action three months ago.’
    • ‘Slice the roll in half the short way, then slice the halves in half.’
    • ‘Press both halves together to flatten and cut each roll in half before serving.’
    fifty per cent of, bisection of
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Either of two equal periods of time into which a sports game or a performance is divided.
      • ‘It got rid of the controversial and hated shoot-out, added stoppage time at the end of halves and games, and the clock counts up instead of down.’
      • ‘The matches would feel more real and there would be less of a need to go through the half-dozen substitutions which regularly mark the second halves of such games.’
      • ‘It ended a run of 14 games unbeaten and it was a sickener to concede in injury time of both halves.’
      • ‘The second half started as it was to go on, with endless comings and goings between the two substitutes benches and the field.’
      • ‘So boring was the game that the first half had no decent shot at goal and the two goalkeepers were literally on holiday.’
      • ‘They were leapfrogged by Matlock Town, who won with goals in stoppage time of both halves.’
      • ‘What is more exciting in football at any level than a scoring drive in the last few minutes of a half or a game?’
      • ‘He later said the first half was his greatest performance as a pro, and no one who saw it could argue.’
      • ‘Only in a bruising period of the second half, when the game turned scrappy, did Hibs lose their composure and control.’
      • ‘A simmering game erupted following the dismissals in the second half of extra-time.’
      • ‘The visitors side upped their game in the second half when they had got used to the playing surface.’
      • ‘The half finished with the Dragons exerting the greater pressure but failing to maintain continuity.’
      • ‘Cougars lifted their game in the second half and pummelled the Lions line, but could not find the final touch.’
      • ‘I had a feeling when we walked out, it was going to be a damned good game in the second half.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘With less than three minutes of the second half gone, Henderson latched on to a lax pass and hacked the ball downfield.’
      • ‘The Selby side came into the game in the second half and were denied by the upright.’
      • ‘Hockey is an 11-a-side game played over two halves of 35 minutes, with goals more often than not coming from set-pieces such as corners or penalties.’
      • ‘They forced two frees that Rogers converted and the sides were level with six minutes of the half gone.’
      • ‘The first half concluded with a trapeze act that got nervous applause throughout and a thunderous ovation at the end.’
    2. 1.2British informal Half a pint of beer or a similar drink.
      ‘a half of bitter’
      • ‘Two airline stewardesses were sacked for drinking a half of lager each before a flight.’
      • ‘If you build a good pub, the women will come - and may just be persuaded to swap their G'n'T for a half of Terrier.’
      • ‘With a couple of pints and two halves of lager plus coffees, our bill came to a few pence over £37-not unreasonable for this standard of Indian restaurant.’
      • ‘He was supping a half of Guinness while looking oddly like a Guinness himself in his black polo neck and angular shock of white hair.’
      • ‘Lester wanted to lump him, Mike reckoned there was a story in it and Lucy calmed him down by buying him a half of Guinness.’
      • ‘I then suggested that perhaps all they needed was a nice cup of coffee or a half of shandy and they looked at me as though I were a paedophile.’
      • ‘Usually we'd have a half of beer, but on this occasion someone suggested a glass of sherry, because it dried you out.’
      • ‘Now, here's the rub: our meal plus two pints and two halves of lager set us back a whopping £50.90.’
      • ‘We sat down with a half of Timothy Taylor's for me, and a pint for him, to make our choices.’
      • ‘Seriously, get her to drink a half of stout a day as a basis for any magick she does.’
      • ‘I still don't know, but the whole dish, washed down with a half of bitter, sure tasted great.’
      • ‘I've got my eye on one or two oddly named brews - I fancy a half of the Norwich Terrier, for instance.’
    3. 1.3informal A half-price fare or ticket, especially for a child.
      • ‘Hey, to the guy who bought a half for 80, you're a moron.’
    4. 1.4Golf 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’
      • ‘The play resumed without penalty and the result of the hole was the half - all square and all to play for.’
      • ‘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.’
    5. 1.5
      short for half back
      • ‘If he plays half for the Knights today, though, I hope the selectors watch him.’
      • ‘He plays half or end.’

adjective, predeterminer, & pronoun

  • 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’
    1. 1.1An amount thought of as roughly a half.
      [as predeterminer] ‘half the audience were blubbing away’
      [as pronoun] ‘half of them are gatecrashers’


  • 1To the extent of half.

    ‘the glass was half full’
    • ‘In her kitchen she pulled out a half full container.’
    • ‘The empty glasses were half filled with a dark golden brew, previously stored in a dark cellar in Copenhagen.’
    • ‘And in a quick movement, Matthew and picked his half full bottle of Fanta up and walked out of the vending room.’
    • ‘Nicabar declared sarcastically as he pushed his coffee aside and picked up a half full bottle of alcohol.’
    • ‘Once there he was handed a half full bottle of vodka and he grinned widely before taking a long pull of the burning liquid.’
    • ‘By 1970 black America was only half southern and more than three-quarters lived in cities.’
    • ‘She was holding a half full glass of Glen Livet in her hand as she stared at the Ocean.’
    1. 1.1[often in combination]To a certain extent; partly.
      ‘the chicken is half-cooked’
      ‘I am half inclined to believe you’
      • ‘They are half afraid to open the door to the postman should he arrive with another registered letter.’
      • ‘A lot of money went into it when the pond was repaired and residents believe it should look half decent.’
      • ‘Others prefer to eat them when they are still green or half ripe, when the acid taste predominates.’
      • ‘She sighed in a half frustrated and half nervous way, and Jason set a mug full of rum before her.’
      • ‘In fact, I'm half inclined to start asking for Italy, just to see if I can do it!’
      • ‘When Macbeth is hunched over, scrawny and half bald he does not radiate a sinister charisma.’
      • ‘Working on Macbeth, he drove his librettist half insane with demands that he stick close to Shakespeare.’
      • ‘She jumped back slightly against the window half afraid of what he was going to say.’
      • ‘In her half conscious state it was only barely that she heard a knock and the door opening.’
      • ‘A half decent story and a better script and it might have been fun.’
      • ‘Even then you are only half confident of getting your subject spuffed on in quality men's monthlies across Britain.’
      • ‘Social criticism is still present, then, but it is half submerged in the dynamics of strong men in conflict.’
      • ‘His epilogue, half desperate, half triumphant, is one of the best I've heard.’
      • ‘With the job half done, somewhere around the caves of Tora Bora, it got - what?’
      • ‘In the streets half naked Kiwis could be seen running around like lunatics.’
      • ‘Since Canon have half decent bits of glass, it was possible to quickly eliminate number three.’
      • ‘Cleave is left facing a tragedy and having to come to terms with things failed and half done.’
      • ‘We just did that one song, a kinda R&B pop song with half French and half English lyrics.’
      • ‘His understated celebrations said he knew the job was only half done.’
      • ‘Everitt half committed to entering the race next year with Bourassa as a partner.’
      partially, partly, incompletely, inadequately, insufficiently, slightly, barely, in part, part, to a limited degree, to a limited extent, in some measure
      to a certain degree, to a certain extent, to a limited degree, to a limited extent, to some degree, to some extent, in part, partly, in some measure
      View synonyms


  • 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’
      • ‘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

    • An important step towards achieving something.

      ‘he never gives in, and that's half the battle’
      • ‘Winning self-government is only half the battle; for thereafter you have to start governing yourselves and this is a lot more difficult than it sounds.’
      • ‘But they admit that being a good rider is only half the battle.’
      • ‘Curiosity is the first step towards knowledge, and knowing is half the battle.’
      • ‘I knew that was only half the battle - exercise was going to be an important component to my weight loss.’
      • ‘If you've ever had the displeasure of tangling with your landlord at the rental board, you know getting yourself down there is half the battle.’
      • ‘However, all these matter are only half the battle.’
      • ‘If a good start is half the battle then two good starts will surely win most battles.’
      • ‘But let's take it a step further and say that recruiting and training is only half the battle.’
      • ‘Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight and body is half the battle at this stage.’
      • ‘If they approve of you, you've won half the battle.’
  • half a chance

    • informal The slightest opportunity.

      ‘given half a chance he can make anything work’
      • ‘Because they'd do it themselves, given half a chance.’
      • ‘But sick children have only half a chance to be cured six months after birth.’
      • ‘Given half a chance, she's rabbiting passionately about cultural strategies, architectural policies and the thorny problem of getting teenage girls into sport.’
      • ‘No wonder most petroleum analysts and traders see more than half a chance of oil hitting $40 or even $50.’
      • ‘It might be, if the claimants have pastoral or farming skills and can reasonably be expected to build productive enterprises on that land if given half a chance.’
      • ‘He is York City through and through and when you have players like Darren on board then you have half a chance.’
      • ‘You'd just keep going forever, given half a chance.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Everyone knows that there is just not enough for some youngsters to do, that there is insufficient parental control and that they are probably decent kids given half a chance.’
      • ‘I can't think of a single guitarist I've ever known in my life that didn't do the duckwalk given half a chance.’
  • half an eye

    • Used in reference to a slight degree of perception or attention.

      ‘he kept half an eye on the house as he worked’
      • ‘He is undoubtedly his own person and he vigorously pursues his own distinctive campaigns with flair and more than half an eye for the media coverage.’
      • ‘Anyone who keeps even a half an eye on the supercomputing scene is probably well puzzled by the idea that even more federal handouts need to go the likes of Cray and IBM.’
      • ‘So, once you've chosen your shrubs with half an eye on the living room, and spent a week or two's rent on bulbs, what next?’
      • ‘By then, I'd also discovered that, in the process of trying to restore the default settings on my digital camera while keeping half an eye on my oldest daughter, I instead erased the memory card, and all photos of the pumpkin patch.’
      • ‘Greece, like Spain, has to have half an eye on the weather when organising its school year.’
      • ‘I had only half an eye on what was happening, however.’
      • ‘He looks at them with half an eye, while flicking between the six or seven collapsed documents on his computer screen.’
      • ‘So I'm still keeping half an eye out for nice apartments downtown.’
      • ‘I spent most of the afternoon sitting on the grass, with half an eye on the big screen, and in between reading and chatting to people around me.’
      • ‘Your man Henry had more than half an eye on his future employment when he sat down with the selectors.’
  • the half of it

    • informal [usually with negative]The most important part or aspect of something.

      ‘you don't know the half of it’
      • ‘And afterwards, she said, ‘You don't know the half of it.’’
      • ‘More recently, we've brought you stories of pantomime horses and drunken ants - although take my word that the tales which made it into print are only the half of it…’
      • ‘When I said he had a big mouth, I didn't know the half of it.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘So there goes the Junior Prom, but that's not 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.’
      • ‘But the truth is Lewis doesn't know the half of it.’
      • ‘And I quietly think to myself ‘You don't know the half of it yet kiddos.’’
      • ‘The relatively short trip from North Carolina to Gotham isn't the half of it, though: for Campbell, his professional career has proved to be the proverbial roller-coaster ride.’
      • ‘Comedian/songster Tom Lehrer didn't know the half of it.’
  • half one (or two etc.)

  • half past one (or two etc.)

    • Thirty minutes after one (two, etc.) o'clock.

      • ‘I'm looking for people who may have seen something suspicious at about quarter past one to say half past one or quarter to two, in that area.’
      • ‘I went in afterwards and the next thing I knew, someone looked at their watch and it was half past two in the morning.’
      • ‘Oh, I could have written something yesterday, but it was half past one when the last guest left.’
      • ‘We turned up just before eight o'clock and left at about half past one in the morning.’
      • ‘He said, ‘Well, I was asleep between half past one and nine o'clock.’’
      • ‘In other news… it's half past one in the morning.’
      • ‘It all started with an intensive lie-in when an invisible force kept me in bed until about half past one in the afternoon.’
      • ‘By this time it would have been about half past one, and we slowly made our way back to the hotel, stopping at a few bars on the way home.’
      • ‘He kept his promise to arrive at the sofa, at which reporters had been waiting, at half past one, and asked in a very grown-up sort of way: ‘How long will the interview last?’’
      • ‘Some of you might have noticed that some time around half past two yesterday afternoon this site disappeared.’
  • half the time

    • As often as not.

      ‘he's so clever, half the time I can't keep up with him’
      • ‘I accomplished it in half the time as my first attempt last week and the results are more polished.’
      • ‘Almost half the time, rejection or delay of loans is due to insufficient documentation.’
      • ‘He sits in the adjacent cubicle, and I am barely aware he's even there half the time.’
      • ‘All else being equal, the modern bus will pick me up half the time.’
      • ‘I now complete my journey in half the time, stress has been replaced with enjoyment and I'm saving a small fortune.’
      • ‘It's not too keen on some of my hardware, refusing to speak to my camera and refusing to even boot half the time when my card reader is plugged in.’
      • ‘Hit counters don't work half the time and only record the last hundred visitors which is no good if you get more visitors than that in a day.’
      • ‘It certainly left me standing on the shores of the Atlantic more than half the time.’
      • ‘The thing is, half the time, my friend would stir early and hover in the groggy world of the almost-awake.’
      • ‘It would come out wrong half the time, and they would tell me to shut up.’
  • not do things by halves

    • Do things thoroughly or extravagantly.

      • ‘They don't do things by halves - and that goes for showing their affection for each other too.’
      • ‘Ireland's wine drinkers don't do things by halves when they can do it by quarters.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘As ever in his life, McLuskey didn't do things by halves.’
      • ‘Hackers don't do things by halves; if they invest in a skill at all, they tend to get very good at it.’
      • ‘He didn't do things by halves in his first win, taking pole, fastest lap and the chequers.’
      • ‘Six bands, twenty three tracks and boy those Boss Tuneage dudes don't do things by halves.’
      • ‘The PCB doesn't do things by halves and they certainly didn't this time.’
      • ‘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.’
      incompletely, imperfectly, inadequately, insufficiently, partially, scrappily, skimpily, to a limited degree, to a limited extent
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  • not half

    • 1Not nearly.

      ‘he is not half such a fool as they thought’
      • ‘I was a bit nervous but not half as bad as when I was waiting to go in to bat.’
      • ‘But the situation was not half as bad as it could have been.’
      • ‘And I said, knowing it was a ‘go’ almost, ‘That's not half as bad, Mr Greene, as losing your biographer.’’
      • ‘When we moved to South Africa in 1984 we were extremely culture-shocked by materialism here - and it's not half as bad as elsewhere!’
      • ‘I'm pretty sure they're not half as stressed out and burned out as most of the rest of us.’
      • ‘I, on the other hand, was not half as comely as they, and definitely not an object of his desire, so I could hold his gaze for as long as I wanted.’
      • ‘Alas poor Peter, Prince of Darkness, not half as good as you thought you were, not half as bad as most people thought you were, you had to go.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Girlie, she's not half as bad as you were in freshman year.’
      really, certainly, definitely, decidedly, assuredly, surely, very much, to a great extent, to a considerable extent, for sure, indeed
      View synonyms
    • 2Not at all.

      ‘the players are not half bad’
      • ‘You know, as a sampler of stuff, that's not half bad.’
      • ‘This season a re-make of ‘The Night Stalker’ has begun to air on Thursday nights and it's not half bad.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘(I am not half bad on wireline technology either, but my focus has been more on wireless).’
      • ‘Instead of Philosopher's Stone's mindless parade of the book's high spots, there's an actual story here and it's not half bad.’
      • ‘Then we went to the pub, caught public transport home, slept for a couple of hours and went to our validictory dinner which was good, bit teary, but not half bad.’
      • ‘The fiction's not half bad, but it's the non-fiction that stands out.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Last night's debate was not half bad for an idiot, but how can people even THINK to vote for him after seeing the first one.’
      • ‘We're talking massively complicated stuff that I wouldn't even fathom creating myself, and I'm not half bad with this stuff.’
      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
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    • 3To an extreme degree; very much so.

      ‘she didn't half flare up!’
      • ‘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
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  • too —— by half

    • Used to emphasize something considered bad.

      ‘the idea seems too superstitious by half’
      • ‘But that's getting too cute by half with the numbers.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It's too shrewd by half for you to now say no contracts were signed.’
      • ‘There was one other thing that I just wanted to correct for the record because I think that this was an example of his playing it just a little bit too cute by half.’
      • ‘Unhappily, it only reinforced my prejudices: that travel writers are too smug by half.’
      • ‘New Year resolutions are just too sensible by half.’
      • ‘While the scientific and engineering aspects of this project are undeniably neat, this thing is just a little too Tolkienesque by half.’
      • ‘However, even at 16 times 2005 profits, the valuation still looks too expensive by half, especially for a mature telecom business.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Sheila sent me this link months ago, but I've been too scared to post it in case it makes me look… well… too smug by half.’
      unduly, overly, excessively, exceedingly, inordinately, disproportionately, far too, to too great an degree, to too great an extent, by an excessive amount
      enormously, considerably, uncommonly, very, ultra-
      View synonyms


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.