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" is the suffix we know from the more common word piecemeal (which shares the "gradually" meaning of "inchmeal," and has several other meanings as well). "Meal" is an old suffix that means "by a (specified) portion or measure at a time"; it is related to the modern German word mal, meaning "time," as in the German word manchmal, meaning "sometimes."
Examples of inchmeal in a Sentence
the troops moved through the village inchmeal, recapturing it virtually house by house