have half a mind to do something

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Brave Heart

Senior Member
Japan, Japanese
Hi all,

A dictionary says "have half a mind to do something" means "consider possibly doing something", and it gives the following examples.

1. It's the second time this month I've caught you smoking. I've half a mind to report you to your parents!

2. I've half a mind to tell her to rewrite the whole report it's so bad.

Can I assume that "have half a mind to do something" tends to be used when you are considering doing someone something unpleasant?

Thanks. :)
 
  • AWordLover

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Hi,

    Yes. The examples you gave are typical, I don't think it is required for it to be something unpleasant that you are considering, but I've never heard it in any other context.

    Keep in mind that when you say, "I've half a mind to ...", someone may make fun of you by agreeing that you only have "half a mind".

    AWordLover
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    It is one of those phrases that gets used a lot in conversation, but has no definitive meaning.

    I avoid it.

    If I want to say something, I want the listener to know exactly what I mean.

    "I have half a mind..." does not meet that criteria.

    Better choices:

    "The very next time you do that I..."

    "I will not tolerate this much longer. If you continue to behave this way I.."

    At least with examples like this, people will know what you really mean.
     

    bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    I must rise to the defense of "I have half a mind." It may be a bit silly, a bit dramatic, and may even sound pretentious... nonetheless, it's a perfectly good phrase. I'd rather keep the language interesting rather than kill off the fun and quirky phrases. Beware of Newspeak!
     

    nichec

    Senior Member
    Chinese(Taiwan)/English(AE)
    --I have half a mind to quit smoking.
    --Oh really? And this is like what, the third time this month?
    --:mad:
    --:(
     

    EnchiladaJack

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    I don't think it necessarily applies only to unpleasant actions. I've also seen it used for unexpected actions. Examples:

    "Why, I have half a mind to go right down to Sears and buy myself that new televison set tonight!"

    "I have half a mind to kiss you right on the lips!"
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    Hi all,

    A dictionary says "have half a mind to do something" means "consider possibly doing something", and it gives the following examples.

    1. It's the second time this month I've caught you smoking. I've half a mind to report you to your parents!

    2. I've half a mind to tell her to rewrite the whole report it's so bad.

    Can I assume that "have half a mind to do something" tends to be used when you are considering doing someone something unpleasant?

    Thanks. :)
    Hi, Brave Heart.

    This expression can be used for pleasant or unpleasant things and means that I am not planning to do it (yet), but I am thinking about doing it.

    The word mind here means intention, not brain.
     

    MarisaHashi

    New Member
    Portuguese
    One more example:

    "Oliphant lived on Half-Moon Street. Mallory had half a mind to stop the cab and see if Oliphant were at home."

    It´s from que novel The Difference Engine, by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling, and does not refer to an unpleasant action.

    cheers
     
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