I am re-phrasing several sentences in a manuscript we are preparing for publication and I have come across a sentence I am not quite happy with.

Without going into the details, the sentence is about a model system where we claim that the model in question has several nice features and simplifies the problem at hand whilst partially retaining the important characteristics of the original system.

The take home messages here are:

  1. The model is simple enough that we can work with it
  2. The model does not reflect the reality entirely, and has some issues associated with the compromises made in order to simplify the problems in the original system.
  3. However, the model is still relevant enough that it's worth working on it

My issue with the word "partly" or "partially" is that it does not convey right level of conformity between the model and the original system. To my ears partly/partially sounds like there is some overlap between the models, but not necessarily enough to justify the amount of time and money invested on it.

So my question is; is there a word that I could use in this scenario, one that is more than partially but less than completely?

Follow-up question; when it comes to adjectives and adverbs where one can rank them, is there a good resource to check on, when one is in doubt? I usually use Thesaurus to find words that are related to one another, but I have not found one that actually ranks such words.

  • You could go for something like "mostly" but I'd consider "...retaining a significant number of characteristics...". Presumably you're also going to quantify things and explain why the characteristics that aren't retained don't matter with regard to justifying the time and money.
    – Rupe
    Jun 9, 2014 at 9:45
  • If you don't absolutely require a single-word replacement here, I'd suggest based upon or an extension of. Either would make it clear that you used the original as a starting point, but did considerable original work.
    – Jason M
    Jun 10, 2014 at 0:18

7 Answers 7


"Largely"; "mostly"; "for the most part" ("...simplifies the problem at hand while for the most part retaining the features of...").

It's not quite what you asked for, but if you want to you might phrase it as "...simplifies the problem at hand while retaining all the relevant/vital/necessary features of..."

  • And in the same vein, 'mainly'
    – Mathieu K.
    Feb 19, 2015 at 23:41

predominantly fits into the spectrum snugly between partially and completely.


The use of 'partially' has the 'cheap copy' effect, and focuses the reader's attention on what was not included.

the model in question has several nice features and simplifies the problem at hand whilst partially retaining the important characteristics of the original system.

The model in question has numerous excellent features and simplifies the germane issues whilst consciously retaining the important characteristics of the original system

  • Thanks for the reply, I actually did not copy the text from the manuscript word for word, so my phrasing does not reflect the actual sentence entirely :) As for the suggestion, consciously it sounds more fit for a designed model (i.e. an engineered model) whereas the model in question is a biological model system. So I am not sure "consciously retaining" is a good fit in this case.
    – posdef
    Jun 9, 2014 at 9:01
  • @posdef Since there is a biological distinction, 'preserving' replaces 'retaining'. Without knowing the nature, I cannot give you the appropriate biologism
    – Third News
    Jun 9, 2014 at 9:33

When something is adequate, but not excellent, it is often said to be workmanlike

competent and skillful but not outstanding or original

The term is often used to describe the performance of skilled activities, and often in the phrase workmanlike manner.

In your case, you might say

The model does a workmanlike job of addressing a number of issues in our task.


Instead of an adverb to modify retaining, consider approximating as a replacement for "partially retaining."

"The model in question has several nice features and simplifies the problem at hand whilst approximating the important characteristics of the original system.

transitive verb

2: to come near to or be close to in position, value, or characteristics



In the law, a person who has not met the requirements completely but who has done much more is said to be in "substantial" compliance. See, Rouser v. White, 825 F.3d 1076 (2016):

"The district court thus erred by applying the wrong legal standard for substantial compliance. The court was satisfied that the decree had been complied with because defendants had taken "significant steps to follow the settlement agreement." See supra p. 1080. But merely taking significant steps toward implementing the decree falls far short of "substantial compliance." While the term is not amenable to a "mathematically precise definition," Otter, 643 F.3d at 284 (quoting Joseph A. v. N.M. Dep't of Human Servs., 69 F.3d 1081, 1085 (10th Cir. 1995)), state law gives it meaning. Id. And in California a party is deemed to have substantially complied with an obligation only where any deviation is "unintentional and so minor or trivial as not `substantially to defeat the object which the parties intend to accomplish.'" Wells Benz, Inc. v. United States, 333 F.2d 89, 92 (9th Cir. 1964) (quoting Connell v. Higgins, 170 Cal. 541, 150 P. 769, 775 (1915))."


Antepenultimately, penultimately, sufficiently, perimaximally, all in adverb form since this was the form taken by the OP's original examples.

  • 2
    Hello Guest. As Matt Gutting has said: 'What we're really looking for (on this or any other Stack Exchange site) is a supported answer; one that you can support with authoritative references (in this case an encyclopedia, dictionary, or some other such document).' And I've not come across a non-temporal usage of your first two suggestions. Feb 20, 2015 at 8:17

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