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Re: Half

Posted by Smokey Stover on November 14, 2007

In Reply to: Half posted by Leon on November 14, 2007

: Hi, I am looking for the meaning of the phrase. You don't know the half of it!


Basic English. You not only don't know the full story, you don't even know half the story. By that is meant that the story or state of things is bigger, deeper, more of whatever it is, than you can imagine. "She seems to treat you like dirt." "Ah, you don't know the half of it. She doesn't just ignore me, she goes out of her way to make my life miserable."

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) has this:

" i. the half of it: a significant or more important part of something. Usu. in negative contexts." The examples they give are these:

"i. 1932 WODEHOUSE Hot Water i. 27 It makes me sick. And that's not the half of it... She told me I've got to be American Ambassador to France. 1947 'N. BLAKE' Minute for Murder i. 2 'We've not seen the half of it yet,' said the Messenger darkly. 'The half of what?' 'You mark my words, sir. When peace comes, as you might say real peace, there'll be chay-oh in this country.' 1966 M. BREWER Man against Fear xi. 117 'You haven't heard the half of it yet.' I went on to tell him about the Carver Street ambush. 1971 M. BABSON Cover-up Story x. 109 'How awful,' she said... I nodded, without telling her she didn't know the half of it."

One reason the OED gives examples is, obviously, that meaning is given to words and expressions by those who use them. It is often more instructive to see how an expression has been used than to read a definition. I think that is particularly the case with this expression.
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