Last modified on 24 May 2014, at 20:06

ha'p'orth

EnglishEdit

Alternative formsEdit

EtymologyEdit

Abbreviation of halfpennyworth.

PronunciationEdit

NounEdit

ha'p'orth (plural ha'p'orth or ha'p'orths)

  1. (UK) halfpennyworth
    • 1729, Jonathan Swift, A Pastoral Dialogue, written after the News of the King’s Death
      At an old stubborn Root I chanc’d to tug,
      When the Dean threw me this Tobacco-plug:
      A longer ha’p’orth never did I see;
      This, dearest Sheelah, thou shalt share with me.
    • 1838, Charles Dickens, The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby
      ‘Mighty fine certainly,’ said Ralph, with great testiness. ‘When I first went to business, ma’am, I took a penny loaf and a ha’porth of milk for my breakfast as I walked to the city every morning; what do you say to that, ma’am? Breakfast! Bah!’
    • circa 1880, William Makepeace Thackeray, Roundabout Papers
      You rascal thief! it is not merely three-ha’p’orth of sooty fruit you rob me of, it is my peace of mind.
    • 1887, C. Stansfeld-Hicks, Yachts, Boats and Canoes
      A well-built and handsome boat is worth varnishing, and it would be a pity to “spoil the ship for a ha’p’orth of tar”.
    • 1997, H. W. Fowler, Modern English Usage
      Halfpennyworth is best spelt and pronounced ha’p’orth.
    • 2003, Anton Chekhov, Ward No. 6
      It’s very simple. Not because our people are ignorant and ungrateful, as you always explained it to yourself, but because in all your fads, if you’ll excuse the word, there wasn’t a ha’p’orth of love and kindness!
  2. (UK slang, plural: “ha’p’orths) A foolish person.
    • 2000, Diary (16 Feb 2000) Frank Dobson (or possibly not) in The Guardian read at [1]
      Mrs Dobson shouted: “Put on your anorak, Frank, you daft ha’p’orth, the maroon one I fetched you for your 60th, or you’ll catch your death.”

Usage notesEdit

  • Use in the colloquial British sense of “a foolish person” is usually modified with an adjective such as daft or silly.