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  1. being such in part only; not total or general; incomplete: partial blindness; a partial payment of a debt.
  2. biased or prejudiced in favor of a person, group, side, etc., over another, as in a controversy: a partial witness.
  3. pertaining to or affecting a part.
  4. being a part; component; constituent.
  5. Botany. secondary or subordinate: a partial umbel.
  1. Bridge. part-score.
  2. Acoustics, Music. partial tone.
  1. partial to, having a liking or preference for; particularly fond of: I'm partial to chocolate cake.

Origin of partial

1375–1425; late Middle English parcial biased, particular < Middle French < Late Latin partiālis pertaining to a part, equivalent to Latin parti- (stem of pars) part + -ālis -al1
Related formspar·tial·ly, adverbpar·tial·ness, nounnon·par·tial, adjectivenon·par·tial·ly, adverbo·ver·par·tial, adjectiveo·ver·par·tial·ly, adverbo·ver·par·tial·ness, noun
Can be confusedpartially partly

Synonyms for partial

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Antonyms for partial

1, 3. complete. 2. unbiased, fair. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for partial

Contemporary Examples of partial

Historical Examples of partial

  • This illuminated the entire room, but in a partial and dismal manner.

  • This might be so had He Himself undertaken to give more than a partial view of truth.

  • I had a partial engagement for Monday with John; but he'll let me off, to go to the Opera.

  • He underwent various operations, but derived only partial benefit from them.


    Edward J. Dent

  • How often, my dear, have you and I endeavoured to detect and censure this partial spirit in others?

    Clarissa, Volume 2 (of 9)

    Samuel Richardson

British Dictionary definitions for partial


  1. relating to only a part; not general or completea partial eclipse
  2. biaseda partial judge
  3. (postpositive foll by to) having a particular liking (for)
  4. botany
    1. constituting part of a larger structurea partial umbel
    2. used for only part of the life cycle of a planta partial habitat
    3. (of a parasite) not exclusively parasitic
  5. maths designating or relating to an operation in which only one of a set of independent variables is considered at a time
  1. Also called: partial tone music acoustics any of the component tones of a single musical sound, including both those that belong to the harmonic series of the sound and those that do not
  2. maths a partial derivative
Derived Formspartially, adverbpartialness, noun

Word Origin for partial

C15: from Old French parcial, from Late Latin partiālis incomplete, from Latin pars part


See partly
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for partial

early 15c., "one-sided, biased," from Old French parcial (14c., Modern French partial), from Medieval Latin partialis "divisible, solitary, partial," from Latin pars (genitive partis) "part" (see part (n.)). Sense of "not whole, incomplete" is attested from late 14c. Related: Partially (mid-15c. as "incompletely").

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper