We're doing a Dutch translation of an English play and having a disagreement about how to translate "I don't like her, but that's not half the point".

Some want to translate "half the point" literally while I think "half the point" has a special meaning in English that's lost in a literal translation. Unfortunately I can't find the expression "half the point" explained online. Can anybody explain this expression, preferably with a reference?

  • The line is from Edward Albee's 1966 A Delicate Balance. As @Kris implies, it's a "mangled" version of "not the half of it", possibly intended to convey that the speaker ("upper middle-class suburbanite" Tobias) is slightly out of touch with real-world language, as well as real-world life. Apr 18, 2012 at 13:15

4 Answers 4


I think the expression simply means:

  • I don't like her, but that's not even half of the reason .. why I am disagreeing or objecting .. (without knowing the context this is speculation).

Half the point is derived from the more common expression the whole point. I am not aware of any idiomatic use. Example:

  • I don't like her; that's the whole point (e.g. why I object to her becoming my boss).

One idiom I often run into:

"But that's not the half of it."

This idiom can be found on
*The American Heritage Dict. of Idioms

Here it implies that there's a more significant other aspect.

In the given context, the speaker suggests that while not liking her is true, there's another more important thing about it. Reading further should clarify on what that is.


"Thou hast not half that power to do me harm. As I have to be hurt. "("Othello")

If you get twice the power you have now, it still won't suffice to do me harm.

Multiply by two your reasons, you'd still won't get to the whole point. Maths...

  • I get that that's a kinda official interpretation, but it makes no sense, shakespeare didn't make ppl immune to swords. Imo it makes far more sense to mean Emilia is already as hurt [emotionally]as she'll get, and threats will do no more.
    – Giu Piete
    Feb 22, 2019 at 13:20

I read this as the idiom "not half" -- related to @Kris's point about "not the half of it" -- and that the speaker is saying "I don't like her, but that's the least of my objections."

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