I'm trying to find out what "I'm partial to …" means. I thought that it means the same as "I like …".

But I found this website, which claims:

If someone asks you whether you still love your husband after 50 years of marriage, for example, and you say, "I'm partial to him," you're either joking or politely saying "Not really." Being partial to something is to love as a warm stove is to a bonfire.

If you answer the question with "I'm partial to him", doesn't that mean that you still like your husband after all these years instead of being joking or saying that you don't like him (as this webite says)?

Also, what is meant by the comparison

Being partial to something is to love as a warm stove is to a bonfire.

Is a warm stove hotter than a bonfire? Is being partial to something less strong than loving something?

  • I am partial to {strawberry jam, the color green, Volvo wagons}. That which you are partial to is that which you have a particular liking for. So, to say you are "partial to him" puts him (jokingly) in the category of things you happen to like more than other things in the same category. You like strawberry more than blueberry, green more than red or blue, and Volvos more than Fords or Audis).
    – TimR
    Commented Dec 24, 2016 at 19:14

2 Answers 2


"I'm partial to..." generally is used in the context of making a decision. It's equivalent to saying: "I'm biased towards (choice A)".

It can also be used for more general expressions of preference:

Friends is a good show, but I'm partial to Seinfeld.

The reason that it would be a joke in the first example is that using such formal, emotionless terminology about something that the speaker is supposedly very passionate about (their husband) is ironic.


partial to

means have a tendency or bias towards choosing something

I'm partial to chocolate cake (if given a choice)!

In order of intensity from greatest to least

passionate (really care alot)
partial / biased
don't care
couldn't care less

The opposite is


which is a very important concept in law

The judge in any trial needs to be impartial when deciding.

  • Wouldn't there be some intermediate steps between being "partial/biased" and "passionate"?
    – OMA
    Commented Sep 24, 2020 at 16:43

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