In Reply to: Too funny by half posted by Gary Martin on January 25, 2010 at 14:34:
: : I cannot find the origin or true meaning of "too funny by half!" Does anyone out there have the answer?
: 'By half' just appears to be an intensifier. I.e. the thing isn't just 'too funny', it is 150% too funny. I've only had a brief scan around reference materials and haven't found anything earlier than an 1895 USA citation of it in print.
It's interesting that the earliest citation is from the U.S. I've only heard (and read) British people say anything "by half", and it's usually "too clever".