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A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (up to 1700)

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First published 1963 (DOST Vol. III).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Half, n.1 Also: halfe, (h)alff, halfte, ha'fe, hauf, haffe. Plur.: half(f)is, halwis, hawis, half(f. [ME. half, pl. halves, OE. half, healf, ON. hálfa. Cf. Halve n.]

1. The half of something which may be divided into two equal, or nearly equal, parts or portions. Also with of omitted or understood.In Aberdeen and espec. Montrose, Half (of) a net, = Half-net n(1) c1400 Troy-bk. ii. 2274 (half of my schippis). 1402 Mar & Kellie MS. (the half of the said landis). 14.. Acts I. 25/2 (the inner halfe of the hous). c1420 Wynt. ii. 49 (the tane half off hyr hare). 1438 Ayr Friars Pr. Chart. 48 (the ta halfe of the tenement). 1461 Montrose B. Ct.
Alexander Cant..has tane halff of a nete of Nwrthesk for ane yhere
1473 Prestwick B. Rec. 22 (the half of the commoun gat). 1481 Acts II. 140/1 (the tane half of the said wageouris). 1498 Acta Conc. II. 165.
For the fisching of the half of ane net yerely of the raike apone. .  Dee
1498 Ib. 257.
The malis of the les half of the landis of Westcrag
1538 Reg. Privy S. II. 393/1 (half of the toun … of Walterscot). 1549 Reg. Episc. Aberd. I. 442 (the ane half of the mekle brewhouise).(2) 1375 Barb. x. 606 (quhill half the craggis thai clummyn had). a1400 Leg. S. x. 323 (he … halfe his kinryk hycht hym). 1460-1 Montrose B. Ct.
Vat Feriar has tane the [ane crossed out] fyschyn off halff a net off the North Vatter. .for tene yheris payand yherly tharfor sex markis
1462 Ib.
Item half a net of the saide watter is sett tyl Thom Cant of the samyn pece
a1500 Rauf C. 152 (half the breid of the hall). Ib. 494 (half the haill day). 1473 Treas. Acc. I. 64 (half a ros noble). 1499 Dunferm. B. Rec. (half a gallon of aill). 1506 Aberd. B. Rec. I. 434 (weyand half ane unce). 1549 Reg. Episc. Aberd. I. 434 (ane half ane pultre and ane half half ane gwyse). 1551 Prot. Bk. W. Corbet 19 (halff all the gwiddis about hyr motheris hous). a1578 Pitsc. I. 275/8 (nocht half ane myll). 1600-1610 Melvill 68.
Till halff a dissone of yow be hangit or banished the countrey
1655–6 Peebles B. Rec. II. 198 (hawfe ane gallone of aille). Ib. (hawf ane pund of butter). 1656 Stitchill B. Ct. 8.
To pay. .twa fulls beir and halfte a full of peis
1686 G. Stuart Joco-Ser. Disc. 60.
A piece of cristal here put on, The muckledeum of ha'fe a crown
1687 Cramond Kirk S. III. 6 Nov.
Mary Fruid..had appointed to her halfe a croun
(3) 1375 Barb. x. 21 (the nethir half wes perelous). 1388 Antiq. Aberd. & B. III. 294 (half to … Alexander, and the tothir half to … John). c1450-2 Howlat 434 (the siluer in the samin half). 1530 Lynd. Test. Pap. 1152 (tak thow ane half, and reik to me ane vther). 1585 Edinb. B. Rec. IV. 384 (the ane half [of the fines] … , the vther half). 1602 Conv. Burghs II. 144.
The anker tow … salbe payit be bayth the schipis, … half and half
1622-6 Bisset II. 246/2.
The loise aw to be … devyded half to half betuix the schipis
1669 Kirkcudbr. Sheriff Ct. Deeds I. 256 (see Hirding vbl. n. attrib.).(4) plur. 1513 Doug. ix. xii. 66 (hys hed clovyn in equale halfis). c1575 Balf. Pract. 625 (the … gudis sould be partit in twa halfis). 1614 Melrose P. 176 (cannone billets … clovin in twa halfis). 1622-6 Bisset II. 249/12 (and they be aggreed to pairt the gayne be halfis betuix theme).

b. A similar division of something non-material.a1400 Leg. S. i. 103 (the halfe of myn sawle). 1490 Irland Mir. I. 69/36 (neire the half of our beatitude). 1583 Sat. P. xlv. 1010 (the half that he has done). a1605 Montg. Flyt. 453 (T) (the half of our help). 1587-99 Hume iv. 33 (the halfe nereby the space).

c. (One's) other half: one's wife. 1605 Lett. & St. P. Jas. VI 68.
Praying … God lang to … preserue to us ȝour sacred maiestie, and ȝour other half

2. A half-portion of, or a half-share in, a boat. 1503 Chart. Coupar A. II. 112.
We … haue grantyt and for ferme lattyn half the bate of the Baitchelhil
1553 Lanark B. Rec. 26.
The said Wylyem … uphaldand the tan half of the said bait, syklyk as Jhone Haste dois to the tothyr hakf
1579 Edinb. Test. VII. 94.
The half of ane girtlang bait, … the equall half of the drave boittis

3. Side; one of the (two) sides (of anything, also with of omitted). Also fig.Chiefly in early verse. See also Bak-half.(1) 1375 Barb. iv. 150.
Thai on twa halfis wer assalit
Ib. xi. 175.
Schir Gylys de Argente he set Vpon ane half, … And of Vallanch schir Amery, On othir half
a1400 Leg. S. xxix. 416.
The tane of thaim lewit he On that half on the bank sittand
?1438 Alex. ii. 4356.
Had Clarus assegit the citie On athir half with his menȝe
Ib. 6774.
On vther halfe [of the hall] was set Betys
1513 Doug. viii. viii. 39.
On this half closyt with the Tuscane flude; On ȝonder syde ar the Rutylianys rude
Ib. x. xiv. 137.
Thrys on the left half … About Eneas raid he
?1549 Monro W. Isles 49.
The under haffe [of a kind of fish] narrest his vombe is quhite
fig. a1400 Leg. S. xii. 23.
Bath one thi half & myne
Ib. 371.
Gentil man on al half he Wes
c1420 Wynt. v. 3021.
On hys modyr halff, a Brettowne He wes … , And off hys fadyr half, a Romane
(2) 1375 Barb. xvi. 676.
Apon bath halfis the Scottis Se
?1438 Alex. i. 1183.
Vpone ȝond halfe of flom Jordane
Ib. ii. 1497. 1456 Hay I. 43/34.
He maid alssua mony bataillis on this half Tiber

b. Side, quarter, with adjs. of direction. Cf. Fourhalf.With the adjs. north and south sometimes written as one word. 1375 Barb. ix. 329.
That he vald mak all free Apon north half the Scottis se
Ib. xvi. 350.
Quhill thai … On vest half … Tuk land
c1420 Bute MS. fol. 172.
Stres of wedrys cummys to thaim on seis half
1437 Reg. Dunferm. 285.
Als mekil land liand on the south half thar oxgang
1454 Liber Col. Glasg. 177.
A tenement … lyand … on the west half of the Kyngis streyt
1478 Acta Aud. 66/2.
Ane of oure souerane lordis generale justice on northt half the watter of Forthe
c1515 Asl. MS. I. 187/29.
Northhalf the Scottis Se duelt neuer Brettone
1554 Reg. Cupar A. II. 113.
The landis … lyand vpoun the est half besoutht the gait

4. One or other of two opposing armies. 1375 Barb. xix. 516.
Aucht dayis bath halffis swa thai lay
c1420 Wynt. viii. 5345.
On bathe the halwys fled thare men
?1438 Alex. ii. 10387.
Thow of baith halfis hes the pryse
1513 Doug. xi. viii. 112.
Gyf this tempestuus trake of the batale On baith the halfis is all owt equale, Quhy failȝe we?

5. On (a person's) half: On the part of; in the name or on behalf of. 1375 Barb. xix. 200.
The trewis on his half gert he stand Apon the marchis stabilly
a1400 Leg. S. iii. 20.
Than come till Andrew ane angell One Cristis halff
?1438 Alex. ii. 6495.
Sen … ȝe on ȝour halfe trewis will ta, On Clarus halfe I grant thair till
c1475 Wall. xi. 1390.
I thé commaund, on Goddis halff, lat me be

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"Half n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 18 May 2024 <>



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