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piecemeal

[pees-meel] /ˈpisˌmil/
adverb
1.
piece by piece; one piece at a time; gradually:
to work piecemeal.
2.
into pieces or fragments:
to tear a letter piecemeal.
adjective
3.
done piecemeal.
Origin
1250-1300
1250-1300; Middle English pecemele; replacing Old English styccemǣlum. See piece, -meal
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for piece meal

piecemeal

/ˈpiːsˌmiːl/
adverb
1.
by degrees; bit by bit; gradually
2.
in or into pieces or piece from piece: to tear something piecemeal
adjective
3.
fragmentary or unsystematic: a piecemeal approach
Word Origin
C13 pecemele, from piece + -mele, from Old English mælum quantity taken at one time
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for piece meal

piecemeal

adv.

c.1300 (originally two words), from piece (n.) + Old English mælum "at a time," dative plural of mæl "appointed time, food served" (see meal (n.1)). The second element once was more commonly used, e.g. Old English styccemælum "bit by bit," gearmælum "year by year." One-word form from 15c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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