Middle English Dictionary Entry

half adj.
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Entry Info

Definitions (Senses and Subsenses)

Note: Cp. half n.
1a.
Constituting the half part of an object, an aggregate, a unit of numbering, coinage, measurement, time, area, etc.; half: (a) immediately preceding a noun; (b) separated from a noun by the definite article or by a demonstrative or possessive pronoun; (c) separated from a noun by the indefinite article; (d) with clause.
1b.
Phrases: out of ~ wit, half out of one's mind; of ~ blod, by only one parent.
2a.
With words for measures of capacity: ~ bune, ~ busshel, ~ busshel tre, ~ hop, ~ sak, ~ sester [OE healf-sester], ~ strike, ~ tunne; with measures of weight: ~ hundred, ~ pound, ~ quartern, ~ ston; with linear measures: ~ fot, ~ inch, ~ mile, ~ nail, ~ yerd; with names of taxes or subsidies: ~ dime, ~ quinsime; etc.
2b.
With words for periods of time: ~ dai, a half day; ~ houre, a period of thirty minutes; ~ prime, the first hour after sunrise, a time earlier than heigh prime or hole prime; ~ undern, the third hour after sunrise, a time earlier than heigh (hole) undern; ~ yer, the half of a year, six months; also, a breviary or service book containing only one half the services appointed for the whole year [quot.: 1446].
2c.
With words for land areas or holdings; also, in derivative surnames: ~ aker, a half acre, a small plot of land; ~ erdling, a tenant with half the holding of an erdling; ~ furlong, half of a square furlong; ~ hide [OE healf-hīd], half of a hide, a holding of half a hide; ~ hideling, a tenant with the holding of a half-hide; ~ plough-lond, half of a plowland; ~ virgate, a holding of half a virgate; ~ yerd, ~ yerd-lond, half of a yardland.
2d.
With words for coins: ~ as, an ancient Roman coin worth half an as; ~ dreme, a Syrian coin worth half a dragme; ~ grot, an English silver coin worth two pence; ~ mark [OE healf-marc], an English coin worth 6 s. 8 d.; also as surname; ~ noble, an English gold coin worth 3 s. 4 d.; ~ peni [see halpeni]; ~ rial, an English gold coin worth five shillings; ~ sicle, an ancient Hebrew half-shekel.
2e.
With words for tide or current; ~ ebbe, the state of the tide when its ebbing is half completed; ~ flod, the state of the tide when its flood stage is half completed; ~ strem, ~ tide, the state of the tide halfway between ebb and flood.
2f.
Miscel.: ~ double, a piece of worsted six yards long and forty-five inches wide; ~ grain, a color similar to scarlet [cp. grain 6.]; ~ mone, the half moon; ~ monelike, shaped like a half moon; ~ staf, half the length of the staff; ~ vouel, a semi-vowel; ~ wode [OE healf-wudu], some kind of plant.
3.
With ordinal numerals: other ~ [OE ōðer h(e)alf], one and a half; ~ thridde, thridde ~, two and a half; ~ ferthe, ferthe ~, three and a half; fifte ~, four and a half.
4.
Having only half, or part, of the function or attributes of a designated person, thing, action, etc.; ~ a clerk, ~ bringer, ~ deliverer; ~ eten, a creature half giant and half man; ~ (a) frend, a person lacking some of the qualities of a friend; ~ god, a demigod; also fig.; ~ (a) man [OE halfman], a weakling; ~ oxe, a creature half ox and half man, the Minotaur; ~ reuing, half repentance; ~ Thursdai, a Thursday considered half holy but not equal to a holy day [cp.OD half-holiday 1.]; ~ word, a hint, an insinuation; word no ~, ?neither a word nor a hint, ?not half a word.
5.
(a) In surnames; (b) in place names [see Smith PNElem. 1.222].

Supplemental Materials (draft)

  • 1591(?a1425) Chester Pl.(Hnt HM 2)50/195 : Come, in Godes name—halfe tyme yet weare—for feare lest that wee drowne!
  • Note: New phrase: 2b. ~ time yet were, half the time is left, we have little time.