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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, adj. Also: halfe, halff(e, hallff, halve, hauf, hawf(e, haffe. [ME. half, OE. half, healf.]

1. Forming a half or moiety. Also absol., as in tua … and ane half.(1) 1501 Treas. Acc. II. 148 (grene carsay to be ane half cote). 1571 Prot. Bk. J. Robeson 116 (the awenture of the said halfe quartar of the said schipe). 1611 Crim. Trials III. 148 (ane half-throche of paper). 1630 Bamff Chart. 223 (in the wardrop, sex halff daills). 1667 Edinb. Test. LXXIII. 76 (ane half shirt, ane haill shirt). 1672 Foulis Acc. Bk. 5.
To buy holland for halfe shirts to me
1680 Blackness Customs 4 b (fyve half peis butting cloath).(2) 14.. Acts I. 53/2 (xxxiiij ky and ane halffe). 1489 Treas. Acc. I. 124 (ij angellis and a hauf). 1530 Reg. Privy S. II. 66/1 (the tua merk land and ane half).

b. Said of a piece of landed property; esp. Halflandis n. 1383 Reg. Great S. (1814) 167/2.
Cum … terris que dicuntur … Halfkyttoksyde, … Hafthrepland
1438 Ayr Friars Pr. Chart. 48.
Al and syndre profitis [etc.] … til the saide halfe tenement pertenand
1540 Reg. Cupar A. II. 7.
To haue set and for mail lattin … our said half town and landis of Blakstoun
1557 Ib. 142.

c. Of half hewis: Partially coloured, with an admixture of dyed threads. 1621 Black Bk. Taymouth 362.
That na wobstar tak mar for the weyfing of ane guid heud plaid bot ane firlot meill … and … for weyffing of ane gray plaid of half hewis tua peckis of meill and tua schillingis siluer

2. a. In stating the time of day, prefixed to the following hour, as half sevin, etc. = half an hour before the hour named. See also Half-hour n. b.So in the modern dialect and Sw. half sju, Du. half zeven, Ger. halb sieben, etc. 1640 Haddington Corr. 178.
I … sail meit any of your footmen on Frayday … be ten or half eleuen hours
1649 Elgin Rec. II. 433.
Schollers convein in schooll be six hours and ar to be exerceised in getting be harte the sacred lesson till half sewen
1659 Aberd. B. Rec. IV. 185.
Ane nichtlie watch … beginand at half nyne hours at nicht
1689 Hickes Gramm. Anglo-Sax. 33.]
[Scoti … quærentibus quota est hora? amant etiamnum respondere, it is half ten, … , it is half twelve, … it is half one

b. Half thrid, two and a half.So ON. hálf þriði, Norw. halvtridje, Dan. halvtredie. Also uther half, one and a half: see Uther adj. ?a1400 Nine Nobles 2.
Into the half thrid ȝeir all anerly [v.r. half thrid ȝeris] … Of crouned kingis he slew nynetene

3. Comb. with nouns. a. In the names of coins. See also Halfpenny n. 1489 Treas. Acc. I. 108.
Takin be the King furth of the Thesauraris pwrs, thre haif demys xxj s.
1451 Acts II. 39/2.
At thar be strikin … half grote, penny, half penny & ferding
1523 Acta Conc. MS. XXXIV. 119.
The haile karolus [to be current at] v d., and the half karolus ij d. and a half penny
1451 Acts II. 40/1.
Ande the half lyone of wecht and of fynes therefter haf cours for iij s. iiij d.
1488 Treas. Acc. I. 85.
In the same purs of half rois nobillis fyve hundreth, hail rois nobilis sextene
1507 Edinb. B. Ct. Bk. 5.
The ½ vnicorne was laid to him in wed of vj s.
Ib. 40. 1584 Acts III. 311/1.
New money to be cunȝeit, … halff grottis for four penneis

b. In measures of length, area, weight, quantity, number, etc. See also Half-akyr n.(1) 1413 Misc. Spald. C. V. 254.
Totas terras meas de half davach de Ardendracht
1479 Dunferm. B. Rec. 2.
Wytht fre ischay and entra to the halfyard
1540–1 Elgin Rec. I. 59.
William Malcome protestit that he hes rycht … for ane half daill in the Linchalc
1571 Grant Chart. 143.
All and haill the landis of the halfe dawache of Reragie
1576 Reg. Privy C. II. 558.
Kyndlie tenentis of the half toun and landis of Elistoun
1660 Melrose Reg. Rec. I. 300.
Ane half sowmes gresse of nolt
1669 Ib. II. 246.
Ane husband land and hallff husband land in Blainslie
(2) ?1438 Alex. ii. 9960.
Golyath … That seuin halfe ellis had of lenth
?1549 Monro W. Isles 17.
Caray, … mair nor … ane haffe myle braid
(3) 1491 Treas. Acc. I. 168.
In the cunȝeing of fifty tua trois pundis and ane halue vnce of brokin siluer vesschall
1503 Orkney Rentals i. 29.
Ane … half barrell butter or ulie
1546 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 125.
That the samyn be sawld in grossis or at the leist nocht half dusonis
1604 St. A. Baxters Bk. 62.
Ane pek halff pek meill for the grindeing of twente boll small corne
1616 M. Works Acc. XV. 6.
For ane halff boll mett

c. In artillery, denominating a piece of smaller size. See also Half-hag n., Half-hagbut n. 1549 Compl. 41.
Mak reddy ȝour … falcons, saikyrs, half saikyrs, and half falcons, slangis, & half slangis
1577 Reg. Privy C. II. 659.
Twa falconattis, twa half myonis, twa half sacharis

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"Half adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 May 2024 <>



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