2 comments

  1. The website https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/half-baked gives the literal meaning of half-baked as ‘insufficiently cooked’. It then goes on two provide two synonyms [that’s the term they use]:
    • underdone.
    • raw – not treated with heat to prepare it for eating.
    Seems to me that underdone could be >50%, =50%, or <50%. However, raw would (I think) have to be 0%.
    For me, 'half' implies at least some baking. I have difficulty agreeing that 'raw' could be a synonym for 'half baked'.

  2. Let me phrase my question another way. Half-baked is half-way on the spectrum between raw and fully baked. So ‘completely half-baked’ is at one end of the spectrum. Which end?

    I think that depends on where the emphasis lies in half-baked. If the emphasis is on the fact some of the baking has been done, then completely half-baked must mean 100% baked.

    On the other hand, if the emphasis is on the fact that only half of the baking has been done, then completely half-baked must mean 0% baked. (And the adjective half-baked is pejorative when it refers to ideas. A completely half-baked idea must be even worse than one that is just half-baked.)

    Maybe there is a third possible reading. If half-baked emphasises the mid-point, then perhaps completely half-baked specifies a narrower band of precision around the midpoint. So on this reading, perhaps half-baked is 50% +/- 10% and completely half-baked is 50% +/- 0.1%. In most contexts I can think of, this third reading is the least plausible.

    The only time I would naturally use half-baked is in being pejorative about an idea. In that context, I would read completely half-baked as 0% (or at any rate much less than 50%).

    If I were talking about cookery, I might got for either the first reading
    (100%) or the second reading (0%)—though in that context I’d be unlikely to use half-baked and would probably look for another way to express the idea.

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