"partly united, partly attached," originally in reference to houses joined together by a party-wall but detached from other buildings, 1845, from semi- + past participle of detach (v.).
The "Detached House" bears its peculiar characteristic on its front; it stands alone, and nothing more can be said about it; but with the "semi-detached house" there is a subtle mystery, much to be marvelled at. Semi-detached! Have the party-walls between two houses shrunk, or is there a bridge connecting the two, as in Mr. Beckford's house in Landsdown Crescent, Bath? A semi-detached house may be a house with a field on one side and a bone-boiling factory on the other. Semi-detached may mean half-tumbling to pieces. I must inquire into it. ["Houses to Let," in Household Words, March 20, 1852]
updated on April 24, 2022
Dictionary entries near semi-detached