piece-meal

piecemeal

[pees-meel]
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; Middle English pecemele; replacing Old English styccemǣlum. See piece, -meal

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World English Dictionary
piecemeal (ˈpiːsˌmiːl)
 
adv
1.  by degrees; bit by bit; gradually
2.  in or into pieces or piece from piece: to tear something piecemeal
 
adj
3.  fragmentary or unsystematic: a piecemeal approach
 
[C13 pecemele, from piece + -mele, from Old English mælum quantity taken at one time]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

piecemeal
c.1300, from piece + O.E. mælum "at a time," dative plural of mæl "appointed time, food served" (see meal (1)).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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