Halfhearted and half-hearted

Photo of author


Halfhearted and half-hearted are two spellings of the same word. They are both compound words, which are two separate words that are joined together. We will examine the definition of halfhearted and half-hearted, where it came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Halfhearted and half-hearted mean without enthusiasm, without any zest or interest, without any energy. The terms halfhearted and half-hearted date back to medieval times and are based on the idea that the heart was the seat of one’s belief and will. Someone operating with only half of his heart is not putting in his full effort. Halfhearted is a closed compound word, which is one in which there is no space between the two joined words. Half-hearted is a hyphenated compound word, in which the two joined words are separated by a hyphen. Most compound words journey from being rendered as two separate words or an open compound, to a hyphenated compound and finally a closed compound in which there is no space between the two joined words. Currently, the Oxford English Dictionary only lists the closed compound word halfhearted, though the hyphenated form is also commonly seen.


Kenyatta skeptics here see the election as a halfhearted do-over of an August presidential election marred by charges of electoral fraud. (The Washington Post)

Then that delivery was nowhere near the bat and we didn’t appeal either, except for a halfhearted try by the slip fielder. (The Express Tribune)

“I was there, but I wasn’t really there,” he writes in the book, referencing both his half-hearted recovery effort and the illicit mid-program breaks he took to record songs. (The New Yorker Magazine)