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Old EnglishEdit

Alternative formsEdit

EtymologyEdit

From Proto-Germanic *halbaz. Compare Old Frisian half, Old Saxon half, Old Dutch *half, Old High German halb, Old Norse halfr, Gothic 𐌷𐌰𐌻𐌱𐍃 (halbs).

PronunciationEdit

  • IPA(key): /hæɑ̯lf/, [hæɑ̯ɫf]

NounEdit

healf f

  1. side
    • late 10th c., Ælfric, "Easter Sunday"
      Se enġel sæt on þā swīðran healfe þǣre byrġene.
      The angel sat on the right side of the tomb.
    • c. 900, translation of Orosius' History Against the Pagans
      Scotland is on ǣlċe healfe ymbfangen mid gārseċġe.
      Ireland is surrounded by ocean on all sides (literally every side).
    • translation of Orosius' History Against the Pagans
      Þǣr wǣron swā miċele manslihtas on ǣġðre healfe þæt hīe man æt nīehstan bebyrġan ne mihte.
      So many people were killed on either side that they were eventually unable to bury them.
  2. half
    • late 10th c., Ælfric, On the Seasons of the Year
      On þā healfe þe sēo Sunne sċīnþ þǣr biþ dæġ, and on þā healfe þe hēo ne sċīnþ þǣr biþ niht.
      On the half where the Sun shines there is day, and on the half where it doesn't shine there is night.

DeclensionEdit

AdjectiveEdit

healf

  1. half
    • late 10th c., Ælfric, "Passion of the Same"
      Se cyning behēt þām apostole healf his rīċe.
      The king promised the apostle half his kingdom.
    • c. 990, Wessex Gospels, Luke 19:8
      Iċ selle þearfum healfe mīne ǣhta, and ġif iċ ǣniġne berēafode, ic hit be fēowerfealdum āġiefe.
      I give half my property to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I give it back four times over.
    • c. 900, translation of Bede's Ecclesiastical History
      And þā æfter him Ēadrīċ ōðer healf ġēar þæt rīċe hæfde.
      And then, after him, Eadric ruled the kingdom for a year and a half.
    • c. 900, translation of Orosius' History Against the Pagans
      Heora man āhēng fifte healf hund.
      Four hundred and fifty of them were hanged (literally four and a half hundred).
    • translation of Orosius' History Against the Pagans
      On his fēðehere wǣron twā and þrītiġ þūsend, and þæs ġehorsodan fifte healf þūsend, and sċipa ān hund and eahtatiġ.
      There were thirty-two thousand men in his infantry, four and a half thousand in his cavalry, and one hundred and eighty ships in his navy.
    • late 10th c., Ælfric, On the Seasons of the Year
      Nān reġn cōm ofer Eorðan fēorðan healfum ġēare.
      No rain came over Earth for three and a half years.
    • The Worcester Chronicle, year 892
      Se bāt wæs ġeworht of þriddan healfre hīde þe hīe on fōron.
      The boat that they traveled on was made of two and a half hides.

Usage notesEdit

  • A certain number and a half was expressed with the ordinal of the next highest number, plus the word healf. Thus one and a half is ōðer healf (literally "second half"), two and a half is þridda healf ("third half"), twenty-four and a half is fīf and twēntigoþa healf ("twenty-fifth half"), and so forth.
  • Additionally, the noun that "___ and a half" enumerates must be singular: 'six and a half pages' is seofoþa healf tramet, not *seofoþan healfe trametas. The one seeming exception is when "___ and a half" describes another number, as in þridde healf þūsend wera ("two and a half thousand men"). Here "men" still has to be plural because "two and a half" describes the number of thousands, not the number of men. If the phrase was just "two and a half men," the noun would indeed be singular: þridda healf wer, not *þriddan healfe weras.

DeclensionEdit

AdverbEdit

healf

  1. half
    • c. 900, translation of Orosius' History Against the Pagans
      And þā Crētense hæfdon þone grimlīcan siġe, and ealle þā æðelestan bearn þāra Athēniānsa hīe ġenāmon and sealdon þām Mīnōtaurō tō etenne, þæt wæs healf mann, healf lēo.
      And the Cretans gained the cruel victory, and took all the noblest children of the Athenians and fed them to the Minotaur (which was a half man, half lion).

DescendantsEdit