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

Without federal direction, cities and states are left to act on their own, creating a patchwork of rules and red tape for companies plowing billions into the technology and hoping to eventually turn their testing into profitable ventures. Tim Higgins, WSJ, "Self-Driving Cars Encounter Political Roadblocks," 19 Nov. 2018 Each county will use the council's framework as a basis to set its own procedures for deciding whom to release before trial, potentially creating a patchwork system based on where a suspect lives. Matt Richardson, Fox News, "California first state to eliminate bail; will free nonviolent suspects within 12 hours," 29 Aug. 2018 Each county will use the council’s framework as a basis to set its own procedures for deciding whom to release before trial, potentially creating a patchwork system based on where a suspect lives. Sophia Bollag, The Seattle Times, "Bill to make California first state to end bail before trial," 28 Aug. 2018 Health insurance typically isn’t such a patchwork system in other countries with wealth comparable to the United States. Washington Post, "The Health 202: Here's why it's a nightmare to lower U.S. drug prices," 3 May 2018 Evans said the current patchwork system of transportation options is ineffective. Ann Zaniewski, Detroit Free Press, "State of Wayne County speech: Evans plans to pitch new regional transit plan this week," 13 Mar. 2018 Some members and aides have complained about a patchwork system for reporting offenses and secrecy around settlements paid by lawmakers' office., "U.S. House Votes to Change Who Pays for Sexual-Misconduct Claims," 6 Feb. 2018 The highways and back roads that cross Northern Virginia’s patchwork of suburbs are known for congestion. Matt Day, The Seattle Times, "Amazon shifts its sights to the East Coast," 13 Nov. 2018 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

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

13 Dec 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).


a complex dispute or argument

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