A topic came up today concerning the usage of the word "half".
I was describing a separation of labour into two obviously unequal groups. A colleague corrected me, saying that the word "half" necessitates an equal division into two parts. By my understanding, a half can, outside of the mathematical definition, mean any binary division regardless of ratio. A look into the etymology seems to support this.
My question is:
- Is it acceptable to use "half" in this fashion?
- Is it more acceptable in certain situations?
- Is there a less ambiguous term that can be used here?
To be clear, the reason for my confusion is the origin of the word. A few sources show its original meaning to be
side and even
part, without necessarily being equal.
The former term is reflected in the word
behalf: on one's side and is related to the German
halbe which is the preferred term for side, whereas
hälfte is used for an equal half.