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

With no budget passed, around 90% of state spending had to be disbursed through a patchwork of state laws and court orders. The Economist, "Bruce Rauner discovers bipartisanship," 5 July 2018 In Massachusetts, a patchwork of local ordinances left some communities dry or without liquor stores. Stephanie Schorow,, "What should marijuana opponents do when their cause fails? A lesson from Prohibition," 23 June 2018 The fur of Weddell seals appeared like beautiful patchwork, speckled with splotches of grey on dark-silver skin. Kasha Patel, Smithsonian, "How Data-Gathering Seals Help Scientists Measure the Melting Antarctic," 13 July 2018 Scales delivers a powerful patchwork of blues, soul, gospel and rock that can get the goosebumps going. Jeff Milo, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit music: Grayling album release, J. Walker & the Crossguards, Chris Canas," 12 July 2018 State-level laws, meanwhile, remain patchwork, with many expanding gun rights and others restricting them. Jon Schuppe /, NBC News, "What is gun control? What you need to know," 5 June 2018 There's this patchwork, countryside feel to it that's a long way from the urban majesty of Sgt. Ron Hart, Billboard, "Small Faces' 'Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake' Turns 50: Phil Collen, Peter Frampton, Linda Thompson & More Pay Tribute," 24 May 2018 But the patchwork of local regulations — some cities and counties have banned all commercial activity — has erected barriers to getting pot from place to place. Michael R. Blood, The Seattle Times, "After California pot stockpiles go up in smoke, what’s next?," 27 Jan. 2018 Seen from a helicopter just before harvest season, marijuana grows are like a green patchwork across one southwestern county, one drug enforcement officer recalled. Washington Post, "Oregon’s medical marijuana program admits to problems," 13 July 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

20 Sep 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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