Definition 2024




Alternative forms

  • (with the first element, half, preserved) halfepenny, halfepeny, halfepenie, halfepenye; halfpenny, halfpeny, halfpenie, halfpenye (all obsolete except halfpenny)
  • (with the first element reduced to hal-, ha’, or ha-) halpeny, halpenye, hapeney, ha’penny, hapenny, happenny (all obsolete except ha’penny)
  • (with the first element corrupted to haw-) hawpny (dialectal, obsolete)


halfpenny (plural halfpennies or halfpence)

  1. (plural: halfpennies) (historical) A discontinued British coin worth half of one penny (old or new).
    • Christmas is coming (traditional carol)
      If you haven't got a penny, / A ha'penny will do, / If you haven't got a ha'penny, / Then God bless you.
  2. (plural: halfpence) A quantity of money worth half a penny.
    • 1599, William Shakespeare, As You Like It (act III, scene 2)
      There were none principal; they were all like one another as halfpence are; every one fault seeming monstrous till his fellow fault came to match it.
    • 1848, William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair
      "If a pound of mutton-candles cost sevenpence-halfpenny, how much must Dobbin cost?"

Derived terms

  • halfpenny farthing
  • halfpenny of gold
  • halfpenny under the hat
  • have one’s hand on another halfpenny
  • have one’s heart on one’s halfpenny



halfpenny (not comparable)

  1. Costing or worth one halfpenny.
    • 1594, William Shakespeare, King Henry VI, Part 2 (act IV, scene 2)
      There shall be in England seven halfpenny loaves sold for a penny; the three-hooped pot shall have ten hoops; and I will make it felony to drink small beer.