Half the battle

The first blow is half the battle - 18th century proverb

We use the expression half the battle to refer to the success that we feel when we’ve completed the most difficult part of a task, especially one that requires multiple steps. We use it to say that we’ve had a successful start to a task and that, as a result, we’re one step closer to achieving our goal. When we say that something was half the battle, it means that the most challenging part of the task is over so the path to success should be easier to manage.

This expression has two common forms. First, we could say that "something is half the battle." Second, we could say that we have "won half the battle." For example:

  • It’s always a struggle to get my kids to school, but once I’ve gotten them in the car, I know I’ve won half the battle.
  • When you’re looking for a job, getting called in for an interview is usually half the battle.

A. Hey Steven. I heard you’re going to give a speech to the new hires this week. How’s the writing process coming along?
B. That’s right, I am. I haven’t completed it yet but I’ve written the outline, and for me, that’s half the battle!

Did you know? This expression relates to war and comes from the 18th century proverb which says, “The first blow is half the battle.” This means that if you can withstand the force of the first blow, then you have endured what is typically the hardest part of the battle.