1 of 2


ˈhaf-ˈmast How to pronounce half-mast (audio)
: a point some distance but not necessarily halfway down below the top of a mast or staff or the peak of a gaff


2 of 2


half-masted; half-masting; half-masts

transitive verb

: to cause to hang at half-mast
half-mast a flag

Examples of half-mast in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
With flags at half-mast, a 21-gun salute and the Taps bugle call echoed between the buildings in honor of each name that was read aloud. Kendrick Calfee, Kansas City Star, 9 May 2024 The state’s Premier Chris Minns declared Monday a national day of mourning and said Australian national flags will be flown at half-mast on government buildings. Helen Regan, CNN, 15 Apr. 2024 But by now, there’s a design to the show that has the lights on the audience being at about half-mast for much of the concert, albeit often in different hues of yellow or red. Chris Willman, Variety, 27 Mar. 2024 But the picture of a British flag at half-mast shared in the Instagram post is unrelated to the situation with the princess. Hannah Hudnall, USA TODAY, 19 Mar. 2024 The governor has ordered that flags be flown at half-mast across Minnesota on Monday in honor of the victims. Erin Clack, Peoplemag, 18 Feb. 2024 The Margaritaville in Palm Springs lowered its flag to half-mast in honor of Buffett, while a location in Nassau, Bahamas reportedly held a moment of silence for him. Lester Fabian Brathwaite, EW.com, 3 Sep. 2023 Why Flags Are Flown at Half-Staff United States flags are lowered to half-staff — or half-mast, on a ship — when the nation is in mourning, often following the death of a government official or military member, in the wake of a deadly attack or public tragedy, or on days of national remembrance. Erin Clack, Peoplemag, 25 Nov. 2023 Nevertheless, the discoveries helped lead to the creation of a new national holiday in Canada, Truth and Reconciliation Day, according to the National Post Report, while Canadian flags were ordered to be kept at half-mast for a record-breaking five consecutive months. Michael Lee, Fox News, 10 Sep. 2023
Patterson High’s junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps said Izaiah was a cadet, and shared a photo of the school’s flags flying at half-mast Tuesday. Dillon Mullan, Baltimore Sun, 7 Mar. 2023 Half-staff is the preferred form of reference in presidential decrees while half-mast is used outside of the U.S. Ridah Syed, Journal Sentinel, 2 Mar. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'half-mast.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use


1800, in the meaning defined above


1785, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of half-mast was in 1785

Dictionary Entries Near half-mast

Cite this Entry

“Half-mast.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/half-mast. Accessed 25 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


: a point about halfway down below the top of a mast or staff
flags hanging at half-mast
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!