Meaning of HALF in English

I. half 1 S1 W1 /hɑːf $ hæf/ BrE AmE predeterminer , pronoun , adjective [only before noun]

1 . 50% exactly or about 50% (½) of an amount, time, distance, number etc

half of

Over half of the children live in one-parent families.

Only half the guests had arrived by seven o'clock.

If you look at our members, at least half are women.

half a mile/pound/hour etc

half a pound of butter

It’s about half a mile down the road.

She drank half a bottle of wine.

half a million dollars

a half hour/mile etc

You can’t just waltz in a half hour late.

It’s about a half mile down the road.

a half day excursion to the island

He demanded a half share of the money.

half the price/size/length etc

It’s only half the size of a normal violin.

They offered to pay half the cost of repairs.

2 . MOST OF the largest part of something

half of

We missed half of what he said because someone was talking.

She seems to be asleep half the time.

Getting covered in mud is half the fun.

3 . TIME half past one/two/three etc especially British English ( also half one/two/three etc British English spoken ) 30 minutes after the hour mentioned:

I got home at about half past one.

I rang at about half six.

We’ll be there by seven or half past (=half past seven) .

4 . half a dozen

a) six:

half a dozen eggs

b) a small number of people or things:

There were half a dozen other people in front of me.

5 . half a/the chance a small opportunity to do something, especially one which someone would take eagerly:

I’d go to university if I got half the chance.

Many kids would sleep till noon given half a chance.

6 . half an eye/ear if you have half an eye on something, or if you are listening with half an ear, you are giving only part of your attention to it:

He listened with only half an ear and his thoughts wandered.

The teacher kept half an eye on them all through the lesson.

7 . be half the battle spoken used to say that when you have done the most difficult part of an activity, the rest is easy:

Getting the audience to like you is half the battle.

8 . half a minute/moment/second etc spoken a very short time:

Hold on, this will only take half a second.

9 . only half the story an explanation that is not complete, used especially to say that someone is trying to keep something secret:

Journalists are convinced that she was only telling them half the story.

10 . have half a mind to do something spoken used to say that you would like to do something but you probably will not do it:

He had half a mind to ask for his money back.

I have half a mind to tell your mother about this.

11 . half measures actions or methods that are not strong enough, and so are not effective in dealing with a difficult problem:

This is no time for half measures.

12 . half a loaf (is better than none) something that is less than what you wanted or asked for, but that you might accept because it is better than nothing

• • •


Use a plural verb after half (of) if you are referring to a number of people or things:

Barely half the citizens bother to vote.

Use a singular verb if you are referring to an amount or thing:

Half the food was wasted.

Over half of Britain’s ancient woodland has been destroyed.

► You do not usually say 'the half':

I’ve only read half of the story (NOT the half of the story).

The only time you say 'the half' is when you are referring to a particular half:

the first half of the book

► Do not say 'half of hour'. Say half an hour or, especially in spoken American English, a half hour .

► Do not say 'one and half', 'two and half' etc. Say one and a half , two and a half etc:

She is two and a half years old.

These phrases are followed by a plural noun, not a singular noun:

one and a half days (NOT one and a half day)

II. half 2 S1 W2 BrE AmE noun ( plural halves /hɑːvz $ hævz/) [countable]

1 . 50% one of two equal parts of something:

Two halves make a whole.

one/two etc and a half (=1½, 2½ etc)

My son’s three and a half now.

an hour and a half later

two and a half thousand people

first/second/other half (of something)

in the first half of the 19th century

He kept the other half of the cake for himself.

top/bottom/northern etc half (of something)

A veil covered the lower half of her face.

the southern half of the country

break/cut/tear etc something in half (=into two equal parts)

She tore the piece of paper in half.

reduce/cut something by half (=make something 50% smaller)

a plan to cut European forces by half

2 . SPORT one of the two parts into which a sports event is divided

first/second half

France played very well in the first half.

3 . PLAYER a player who plays in the middle part of the field in sports like football, ↑ rugby etc:

the 23-year-old Newcastle centre half

4 . BEER British English a half of a ↑ pint of beer

half of

Can I have a half of lager, please?

5 . TICKET British English a child’s ticket, for example on a bus or train, that is cheaper than an adult’s ticket:

One and a half to Waterloo, please.

6 . a ... and a half informal used when you think that something is very unusual or surprising, or very good:

That was a meal and a half!

7 . the half of it spoken used to emphasize that a situation is more difficult, complicated, or unpleasant than people realize:

Everyone knows she’s a difficult girl, but they don’t know the half of it.

8 . your better half/other half old-fashioned used humorously to mean your husband or wife

9 . not do something by halves to do something very eagerly and using a lot of care and effort:

I’m sure it will be a fantastic wedding. Eva never does anything by halves.

10 . go halves (on something) to share something, especially the cost of something, equally between two people:

Do you want to go halves on a pizza?

11 . too clever/rich/good etc by half British English informal very clever, rich etc in an annoying way:

That boy’s too arrogant by half.

12 . how the other half lives how people who are much richer or much poorer than you manage their lives, work, money etc

• • •


■ verbs

▪ break/cut/tear something in half (=into two equal pieces)

He tore the paper in half.

▪ divide/split something in half

Divide the dough in half.

▪ reduce/cut something by half (=make something 50% smaller or 50% less)

The company has reduced the number of staff by half.

▪ decrease/fall by half (=become 50% less)

Share prices fell by half.

▪ increase/rise by half (=become 50% more)

The number of passengers using the service has increased by half.

■ adjectives

▪ the top/bottom half

He graduated in the top half of his law school class.

▪ the upper/lower half

The upper half of the door contained a stained glass window.

▪ the northern/southern half

The northern half of the city is generally poorer.

▪ the first/second half

Profits doubled in the first half of the year.

▪ the other half

Half the patients were given the drug and the other half were given a sugar pill.

▪ the last/latter half

He struggled with ill health in the latter half of his life.

■ phrases

▪ one/two etc and a half

‘How old is she?’ ‘Five and a half.’

III. half 3 S2 BrE AmE adverb

1 . partly, but not completely:

He was half in the water and half out.

She was standing there half dressed, putting on her make-up.

The door was only half closed.

The jug was still half full.

a half-empty wine bottle

I was only half awake.

He looked half asleep.

I was half expecting her to say ‘no’.

I half hoped that they wouldn’t come.

I said it half jokingly.

2 . if something is half one thing and half something else, it is a combination of those two things:

He’s half English, half Swiss.

3 . used to emphasize something bad, to say that it is almost an extremely bad thing:

The kitten looked half starved.

He was half dead with exhaustion.

I had been driven half out of my mind with worry.

4 .

a) half as much/big etc half the size, amount etc of something else:

The new machine has all the same functions, but is only half as large.

b) half as much/big etc again larger by an amount that is equal to half the original size:

A flat in London costs almost half as much again as a flat in Glasgow.

5 . not half as/so good/interesting etc (as somebody/something) much less good, less interesting etc than someone or something else:

The movie wasn’t half as entertaining as the book.

She can’t love you half as much as I do.

6 . not half British English spoken used when you want to emphasize an opinion or statement:

She doesn’t half talk once she gets started.

7 . not half bad spoken an expression meaning good, used especially when you are rather surprised that something is good:

Actually, the party wasn’t half bad.

8 . half and half partly one thing and partly another:

The group was about half and half, complete beginners and people with some experience.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.