noun, often attributive
patch·​work | \ˈpach-ˌwərk \

Definition of patchwork 

1 : something composed of miscellaneous or incongruous parts : hodgepodge

2 : pieces of cloth of various colors and shapes sewn together to form a covering also : something resembling such a covering a patchwork of fields

Illustration of patchwork

Illustration of patchwork

patchwork 2

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Examples of patchwork in a Sentence

The valley is a patchwork of family farms. A patchwork of laws prevent the land from being developed. a patchwork system of laws
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Recent Examples on the Web

Opponents of digital taxes, which include lobbyists for multinationals, say a patchwork of new rules that vary by country will hurt smaller firms. Nina Trentmann, WSJ, "U.K. to Roll Out First-of-Its-Kind Digital Tax," 29 Oct. 2018 Observing the atoll with satellites, scientists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service discovered East Island completely inundated with water, rendering it a nearly invisible patchwork of sand. Sam Blum, Popular Mechanics, "A Remote Hawaiian Island Disappeared Completely Following a Hurricane," 24 Oct. 2018 Chimacum Valley, a patchwork of pastures, forest and farmland with a salmon-bearing stream running through it, is the agricultural heart of the eastern Olympic Peninsula. Providence Cicero, The Seattle Times, "Destination Dining: Finnriver Farm & Cidery," 25 Sep. 2018 The pair stabbed Coggins more than 30 times, leaving a patchwork of bloody Xes on the young man’s skin, prosecutors said, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Washington Post, "A black man was murdered for dating a white woman. His killer was sentenced — 35 years later.," 27 June 2018 Today the country is ruled by two rival governments, each of which relies on a patchwork of local militias. Fox News, "Amnesty says Europe complicit in Libyan abuse of migrants," 16 May 2018 Part of Uber's success, in particular, is due to its ability to convince state governments that a uniform set of statewide regulations is more amenable to them than a patchwork of widely-varied local and municipal ordinances, Ewer said. Doug Ferrar,, "Uber business booming at Delaware beaches," 9 July 2017 There was the evolutionary leap forward from Etsy-style patchwork to globalized sophistication at Bode. New York Times, "New York Men’s Fashion Week: The Mixtape," 11 July 2018 Then came a cathartic, six-game elimination of the Penguins behind a patchwork lineup full of rookies. Stephen Whyno,, "Stanley Cup run makes up for Capitals' playoff failures," 7 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'patchwork.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of patchwork

1634, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for patchwork

Last Updated

15 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for patchwork

The first known use of patchwork was in 1634

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More Definitions for patchwork



English Language Learners Definition of patchwork

: something that is made up of different things

: pieces of cloth of different colors and shapes that are sewn together in a pattern


patch·​work | \ˈpach-ˌwərk \

Kids Definition of patchwork

1 : pieces of cloth of different colors and shapes sewed together

2 : something made up of different parts The farm is a patchwork of fields.

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Comments on patchwork

What made you want to look up patchwork? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


by force of circumstances

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