Learn English – word that means to like part of something, but not the whole


Is there a single word that means: to like an aspect something larger, but to dislike the whole thing?

As an example, someone might say, "I'd like to be fit", meaning that they would genuinely like the benefits of being fit, but omitting the fact that the only thing stopping them from being fit is that they don't like exercise. That is, they they would like to be fit if it didn't involve exercise.

For simplicity, I'm going to use 'half-like' as a place holder in a few more examples.

  • "I'd half-like to buy that new car", meaning "I'd like to buy that new car (if I could find it cheaper)".

  • "I'd half-like to be paid more", meaning "I'd like to be paid more (but I don't want to work harder)".

  • "I'd half-like to learn a language", meaning "I'd like to learn a language (but there's so much to watch on TV)".

  • "I'd half-like to retire", meaning "I'd like to retire (but I'd miss my colleagues)".

I'd prefer a non-judgemental term but any single word that has this meaning would be appreciated, even a word in another language.

As per comments, in spoken English, this can be expressed using stresses and pauses.

  • "I would like to buy that car …", meaning the same as the above; the stress serving to draw attention to the implicit "but".

Also as per comments (thank you all), this can be expressed by adding a few extra words, for example "quite like", or "like the idea of …", or by making explicit the overriding "but …".

I'm coming to suspect that there may not be a single word that captures what I want, but that there might be several single words that capture different variations of what I want.

In the above samples, if the speaker is aware of the conflict between what they want and what they don't want, then as per Jason and user888379, they could say "I'm ambivalent about …" or "I'm conflicted about …", and especially so if the desires are closely balanced.

But if the person doesn't accept the conflict, then those constructs don't work as well.

To rework the previous examples:

  • "He half-wants to be fit."
  • "He'd half-like to buy that new car."
  • "He half-wants to be paid more."
  • "He half-wants to learn a language."
  • "He'd half-like to retire"

"Dreams of" might work, though it doesn't distinguish between "can't" and "could but won't". "Dreams of" could even be used for a person who is working towards a goal, which isn't the intent I want to convey.

"likes the idea of" could work too, though it isn't perfect either. It doesn't distinguish between a weak inclination towards something and a strong inclination countered by an even stronger disinclination.

"deluded", "denial" or more kindly, "unaware" are all potentially applicable, but they would describe the person themselves, rather than their half-want for something.

You could use "unrealistically wants", but it would be a clumsy construction, and perhaps imply an impossible desire, rather than one that would be possible, if the person wanted it a bit more.

"Supposedly wants" is maybe a better expression of this key concept I want to capture: the difference between 'expressed opinion' and 'observed behaviour', the "he's just not that into you" factor, a word to describe someone complaining that they want something that is actually within their power to have, if they really wanted it as badly as they claim to want it.

Best Answer

I would say that you have mixed feelings:

: conflicting feelings or emotions
// I'm having mixed feelings about the planned trip.

You like some aspects of something, but not others. Therefore, you are conflicted. This is not the same thing as being neutral or not caring.

With your sentences:

I'm having mixed feelings about (buying that new car / being paid more / learning a language / retiring).