Middle English Dictionary Entry

half n.
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Entry Info

Definitions (Senses and Subsenses)

1a.
(a) A half part of an object, an area, an aggregate, a quantity, a unit of measurement, etc.; also, one of two (unequal parts), one of two ends or sides; (b) and a(n ~, and ~, (so much or many) and a half (of the specified unit); houre ne ~, neither hour nor half-hour; (c) a numerical half.
1b.
Phrases: after the ~, half-and-half; bi the ~, by half, to a considerable extent; bi halves, halfway, partly; to ~, on half shares; to the ~, unto the halves, to half the capacity, half full, halfway. [See also bihalve n., bihalve(n, -es adv., & bihalve(s prep.]
1c.
(a) Either of two groups of persons distinguished by kind; (b) any of a number of parts or portions; the more ~, the greater part.
2.
One of the four quarters of the earth, the firmament, a country, a city, or a building, distinguished by one of the cardinal points of the compass; on four ~ the world, in the four quarters of the earth; a four ~ Engelond, in the four quarters of England; etc.
3.
(a) A side of the human body; side ~; a side of venison [quot.: Gawain]; one of the two sides of the heart; -- used fig.; bak ~, q.v.; (b) one of the external surfaces of a hill, tree, etc.; one of the two sides of a leaf in a book; first ~, recto; other ~, verso; wrong ~, the inside (of a pair of gloves); (c) a line of descent; fader ~, father's side; moder ~, mother's side; harlotes ~, offspring of knaves.
4a.
Either of two sides, positions, or directions to the right or left of a person, line, etc.; on the right (swithere) ~ on the right hand; on the lift (winstre) ~, on the left hand; on the right ~ God, on the right hand of God; on both ~, on both halve(s, on both sides; on either ~, on either side; on either ~ hire, on either side of her; on one ~ him, on one side of him; on one ~..on other ~; of this ~..of other ~; etc.
4b.
Any side, place, position, or direction away from a center of reference, on ech (ilk) ~, on everi ~, on each (every) side, in every direction, everywhere; on ech ~ hire, on all sides of her; everi ~, on all sides; in (on) al ~, everywhere; o five ~, in five places; bi on (are) ~, on another ~, to one side, apart; etc.
4c.
A specified area; bi the water ~, on the side next the water; o the cite ~, etc.; bi that se halves, beside that sea.
5a.
The space or region lying to one side or other of a topographical feature: (a) on (a, o, bi) this ~, on this side of (sth.); in on ~, on one side of (sth.); on that ~, on other ~, in the other ~ of, on the other side of (sth.); on (a, o) yond ~, beyond (sth.); on est ~, east of (sth.); etc.; (b) on this ~, in this region or country; into oure ~, into our own country; in other ~, outside one's country.
5b.
(a) Fig. a this ~ God, on this side of God, in human affairs; (b) a this ~, before (a specified date).
6.
(a) One of two contrasting positions or points of view taken in argument or in consideration of a subject; a side of an argument; on (an, in) other ~, on another ~, on the other hand; o fele ~, on many sides of an argument; upon ani ~, under any circumstances; (b) one of two ways of action; one of two aspects of something; (c) one of the opposing sides in an armed conflict, in a contest, or in difference over religious practices.
7a.
Personal interest or concern, behalf: (a) in (a, bi, on) ~, for (one's) part, to (one's) interest, as far as (one) is concerned; (b) on (in, o, upon) ~, on or in behalf of (sb.), in the name of (sb.), as the agent of (sb.); (c) the devel ~, Devil a bit, at all.
7b.
In pious phrases & exclamations: a (o, of, on, upon) Goddes ~, in Cristes ~, etc.: (a) in God's behalf, in God's (Christ's) name, for God's sake, with God's blessing; (b) used to reinforce a petition or command; (c) used to indicate contentment with a situation; i were a Goddes ~, I should be content; (d) used as surname [see God n. (1) 12. (a)].
8.
In place names [see Smith PNElem. 1.222].

Supplemental Materials (draft)

  • 1532 rev.(c1385) Usk TL (Thynne:Skeat)93/86 : Al my thought…desyreth…to encrese al my travayle…in your service, this Margaryte to gladde in some halve.
  • Note: NS
    Note: ='in some way'
  • a1450 PNoster R.Hermit (Westm-S 3)31/18 : Þe rewme of God is vndirstonden on þre maneres: First, euery man oweþ to be þe rewme of God…On oþer half, þou may vndirstonde þat holy chirche here in erþe is þe rewme of heuene…On þe þridde maner, [etc.].
  • Note: ?NS
    Note: ?1c.(b)
  • c1450(a1400) Orolog.Sap.(Dc 114)385/6 : Ʒee devoute worschepers…mowen…euery daye…rede þe schorte seruyse…in latyne…they that kunne not rede or elles ben occupyed lawefully on oþere halfes…þey schollen in þe stede þere-of seye vii Pater noster.
  • Note: Closest gloss: 7a.(b), but may need mod.