inch·​meal ˈinch-ˌmēl How to pronounce inchmeal (audio)

Did you know?

“All the infections that the sun sucks up / From bogs, fens, flats, on Prosper fall, and make him / By inch-meal a disease!” So goes one of the curses the hated and hateful Caliban hurls in the direction of Prospero in Shakespeare’s The Tempest. The origin of inchmeal is simple; the inch half is the familiar measurement, and the meal half, which means “by a (specified) portion or measure at a time,” is the suffix we know from inchmeal’s much more common synonym piecemeal. Students of German may be interested to know that -meal is related to the modern German word mal, meaning “time,” which features in the common term manchmal, meaning “sometimes.”

Examples of inchmeal in a Sentence

the troops moved through the village inchmeal, recapturing it virtually house by house

Word History


inch entry 1 + -meal

First Known Use

1548, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of inchmeal was in 1548


Dictionary Entries Near inchmeal

Cite this Entry

“Inchmeal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2024.

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