In Reply to: Too funny by half posted by Brian from Shawnee on January 26, 2010 at 14:25:
: : : 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".
[I have to differ with Brian from Shawnee; I have heard American speakers say "too [much, or whatever] by half." The Britishism that never has taken hold here is "not half," either by itself or in saying that (for instance) "She isn't half clever!" (Meaning the opposite: she's orffly clever.) - Baceseras.]