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[haf-mast, hahf-mahst] /ˈhæfˈmæst, ˈhɑfˈmɑst/

a position approximately halfway between the top of a mast, staff, etc., and its base.
verb (used with object)
to place (a flag) at half-mast, as a mark of respect for the dead or as a signal of distress.
the lower than normal position to which a flag is lowered on a mast as a sign of mourning or distress
(transitive) to put (a flag) in this position

1620s, from half + mast (n.1).


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