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[pees-meel] /ˈpisˌmil/
piece by piece; one piece at a time; gradually:
to work piecemeal.
into pieces or fragments:
to tear a letter piecemeal.
done piecemeal.
Origin of piecemeal
1250-1300; Middle English pecemele; replacing Old English styccemǣlum. See piece, -meal Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for piecemeal
  • In practice, though, perhaps all that can be done is to tackle the problems piecemeal.
  • Currently our system of ocean governance is piecemeal.
  • Yet the overall impression was one of dingy neglect and piecemeal repair.
  • What stands out about the awards is their piecemeal nature.
  • piecemeal prisoner releases should not be mistaken for necessary structural changes.
  • But farmers say that the reforms have been too piecemeal to be effective.
  • Although forceful, the effort has also been piecemeal and inefficient.
  • We have to make it safer and more dependable, not abandon it piecemeal.
  • But the piecemeal efforts to revive ancient trades in frankincense, henna and hides do not begin to make up for livestock.
  • We need a radical shift away from the piecemeal regulation of small areas that has resulted.
British Dictionary definitions for piecemeal


by degrees; bit by bit; gradually
in or into pieces or piece from piece: to tear something piecemeal
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
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for piecemeal

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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