Definition of partial in English:



  • 1Existing only in part; incomplete.

    ‘a question to which we have only partial answers’
    • ‘Often premature and unconvincing generalisations are made from rather more limited and partial changes.’
    • ‘The project essentially entailed a partial renewal of the existing line with some shortcut additions.’
    • ‘Finding at least partial answers to questions about suffering and death brings satisfaction, if not certainty.’
    • ‘I suspect that this may be a partial answer, but the major problem is that there is too much fishing available to match anglers these days.’
    • ‘In such cases, the children sometimes got partial answers or intuited something of their situations on their own.’
    • ‘With a few cues, reminders or partial fragments in mind, we can select, interpret, and integrate one thing with another so as to make use of what we learn and remember.’
    • ‘If you want to know why I am so hostile to religion, there are partial answers here and here.’
    • ‘This is a very partial list, restricted to US sins and crimes in the Western Hemisphere.’
    • ‘Rummaging around the internet has provided a partial answer.’
    • ‘Control of the marriage of a female heiress by the cadet branches of the chiefly house, and the office of tutor or guardian within the clan, were partial answers.’
    • ‘For those of us who were expecting the Iraqi army to put up more resistance to the coalition this may provide a partial answer to why they did not.’
    • ‘I think that a partial answer to your question is that we're in a much more modern secular period here, post-1945.’
    • ‘This is a partial answer, satisfactory to explain my own suffering.’
    • ‘Quantitative measurement is necessarily, by its very nature, partial and incomplete.’
    • ‘A partial answer to this is that mere things only present themselves to mere beholding, but mere beholding is only a deficient mode of concern or engagement.’
    • ‘It should be thought of as a partial or incomplete dislocation.’
    • ‘Buildings partially vacated may also qualify for a partial reduction in payments.’
    • ‘I have a vague sense that dramaturgs may be a partial answer to the director capture problem, but I don't know enough about theatre to say.’
    • ‘One partial answer is a prediction from the years before the Oslo peace process collapsed.’
    • ‘A partial answer to the other question is that some basic international requirements for a fair election are missing in Florida.’
    incomplete, limited, qualified, restricted, imperfect, fragmentary, unfinished
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  • 2Favoring one side in a dispute above the other; biased.

    ‘the paper gave a distorted and very partial view of the situation’
    • ‘The difficulty, as ever, is that it inevitably encompasses a very partial and contradictory world view.’
    • ‘I'm not an expert and I can't say for sure, but I think the UN weapons inspectors took a partial view of biological warfare.’
    • ‘As partial academics they are unable to sponsor, promote or foster academic excellence.’
    • ‘Thus the written history of slavery is inevitably partial and one-sided.’
    • ‘How can those who articulate the green case possibly be comfortable with such a curiously unbalanced mix of myths and beliefs, such a partial view of the world?’
    • ‘He said it was evident in the partial views of legislators in the House of Representatives.’
    • ‘Such a perspective would be as partial as the view that the American Revolution was a fight between natives and aliens.’
    • ‘It's about separating yourself and your ideas from everyone else's partial biases.’
    • ‘Total war may describe certain isolated and uncharacteristic aspects of the Civil War but is at most a partial view.’
    • ‘Published within one year of the Iraq War, the book offers only a partial view of the international dimension of the crisis.’
    • ‘The original hawk-dove model predicted partial preferences for aggressiveness.’
    • ‘Death doesn't seem to have any favourites; only humans have a partial view.’
    biased, prejudiced, partisan, one-sided, slanted, skewed, coloured, interested, parti pris, discriminatory, preferential, jaundiced
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  • 3[predicative] Having a liking for.

    ‘you know I'm partial to bacon and eggs’
    like, love, enjoy, have a liking for, be fond of, be keen on, have a fondness for, have a weakness for, have a soft spot for, have a taste for, be taken with, care for, have a penchant for, have a predilection for, have a proclivity for, be enamoured of
    adore, be mad about, be mad on, have a thing about, be crazy about, be potty about, be nutty about
    cotton to, be nutso about, be nutso over
    be shook on
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  • A component of a musical sound; an overtone or harmonic.

    ‘the upper partials of the string’
    • ‘One unusual aspect of this music is that the rich upper partials of the voices bring out the simple harmonies of the hymns in a way not normally heard.’
    • ‘At once the problem arises that the human voice is composed of many tones: the fundamental tone and a series of other tones called upper harmonics or partials.’
    • ‘Bass players in these bands often play with picks, which also emphasizes higher partials.’
    • ‘In stringed instruments, additional strings of wire that vibrate in sympathy with a unison note or one of its partials, bowed or plucked on the main strings, adding a shimmer to the sound.’
    • ‘Fortunately, Väisänen salvages the track by piling up shimmering partials over the depths-of-the-ocean drone before the track gently recedes into the distance.’


Late Middle English (in the sense inclined to favor one party in a cause): from Old French parcial ( partial), French partiel ( partial), from late Latin partialis, from pars, part- part.