Split The Difference Meaning
(idiomatic, by extension) To choose an option or take a position roughly midway between two opposed alternatives; to compromise.
Example: In a financial transaction, to settle on an amount midway between the offer and the asking price.
1838, Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist, ch. 3:
"Come!" said Gamfield; "say four pound, gen'lmen. Say four pound, and you've got rid on him for good and all. There!"
"Three pound ten," repeated Mr. Limbkins, firmly.
"Come! I'll split the difference, gen'lmen," urged Gamfield. "Three pound fifteen."
1916, Ring Lardner, Sr., You Know Me Al, ch. 3:
My new brother-in-law Allen told me I should ought to give the preist $5 and I thought it should be about $2 the same as the license so I split the difference and give him $3.50.
1875, Anthony Trollope, The Way We Live Now, ch. 28:
Dolly suggested that they should meet at the club at 4 p.m. Sir Felix had named noon, and promised to call at Dolly's lodgings. They split the difference at last and agreed to start at two.
1916, Zane Grey, The Border Legion, ch. 11:
Gulden appeared at a loss for an instant reply. "I want plenty to do," he replied, presently. "I want to be in on everything. I want to be free to kill a man when I like."
. . . "Gulden, I'll split the difference between us. I'll leave you free to do as you like. But all the othersâ€”every manâ€”must take orders from me."
2012 July 8, "New Cars: Embracing Efficiency, Halfheartedly," New York Times (retrieved 15 Nov 2015):
In terms of both price and efficiency, the Malibu Eco attempts to split the difference between a conventionally powered sedan and all-out efficiency champs like the Toyota Camry and Ford Fusion hybrids.