Entries linking to half-track
Old English half, halb (Mercian), healf (W. Saxon) "side, part," not necessarily of equal division (original sense preserved in behalf), from Proto-Germanic *halba- "something divided" (source also of Old Saxon halba, Old Norse halfr, Old Frisian, Middle Dutch half, German halb, Gothic halbs "half"), a word of no certain etymology. Perhaps from PIE root *skel- (1) "to cut," or perhaps a substratum word. Noun, adjective, and adverb all were in Old English.
Used also in Old English phrases, as in modern German, to mean "one half unit less than," for example þridda healf "two and a half," literally "half third." The construction in two and a half, etc., is first recorded c. 1200. Of time, in half past ten, etc., first attested 1750; in Scottish, the half often is prefixed to the following hour (as in German, halb elf = "ten thirty").
To go off half-cocked in the figurative sense "speak or act too hastily" (1833) is in allusion to firearms going off prematurely; half-cocked in a literal sense "with the cock lifted to the first catch, at which position the trigger does not act" is recorded by 1750. In 1770 it was noted as a synonym for "drunk." Bartlett ("Dictionary of Americanisms," 1848) writes that it was "a metaphorical expression borrowed from the language of sportsmen, and is applied to a person who attempts a thing in a hurry without due preparation, and consequently fails."
late 15c., "footprint, mark left by anything," from Old French trac "track of horses, trace" (mid-15c.), possibly from a Germanic source (compare Middle Low German treck, Dutch trek "drawing, pulling;" see trek). Meaning "lines of rails for drawing trains" is from 1805. Meaning "branch of athletics involving a running track" is recorded from 1905. Meaning "single recorded item" is from 1904, originally in reference to phonograph records. Meaning "mark on skin from repeated drug injection" is first attested 1964.
Track record (1955) is a figurative use from racing, "performance history" of an individual car, runner, horse, etc. (1907, but the phrase was more common in sense "fastest speed recorded at a particular track"). To make tracks "move quickly" is American English colloquial first recorded 1835; to cover (one's) tracks in the figurative sense first attested 1898; to keep track of something is attested from 1883. American English wrong side of the tracks "bad part of town" is by 1901. Track lighting attested from 1970.
updated on October 10, 2017
Dictionary entries near half-track