noun, often attributive
patch·​work | \ ˈpach-ˌwərk How to pronounce patchwork (audio) \

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

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
Recent Examples on the Web The result is a small-scale, uneven patchwork of tutoring programs that falls far short of the broad effort that experts say would be needed to make a major dent in student learning loss statewide. Koby Levin And Isabel Lohman, Detroit Free Press, 2 May 2022 Their chieftains then fought over a patchwork of territories in what is now Ukraine, Belarus, and the northeast of Russia—with Kyiv always as the prize. Timothy Snyder, The New Yorker, 28 Apr. 2022 Others are more subtle, like a fabric that incorporates imagery of Haitian gingerbread houses, or patchwork (a Desigual signature) inspired by Spain. Sarah Spellings, Vogue, 21 Apr. 2022 The restrictions are instead a patchwork enacted by individual countries—with different capitals having imposed restrictions of varying severity. Jeremy Kahn, Fortune, 12 Apr. 2022 Tens of thousands of acres from Macon to Robins Air Force Base south to Hawkinsville have been protected through a patchwork of hunting clubs, state wildlife management areas and the Bond Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. Washington Post, 12 Feb. 2022 Instead, its distribution is patchwork — uneven and variable. NBC News, 4 Feb. 2022 The Angashion patchwork sweater from Amazon incorporates an animal design and print along the sleeves, with varying designs that feature spots, stripes, and more. Lauren Rearick,, 20 Jan. 2022 As lawmakers passed increasingly stringent regulations in the decades after Roe, protesters grew more emboldened, and Mississippi was left with a patchwork of doctors, most of whom wound up in trouble with the law. Caroline Kitchener And Casey Parks, Anchorage Daily News, 1 Dec. 2021 See More

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.

First Known Use of patchwork

1634, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Learn More About patchwork

Time Traveler for patchwork

Time Traveler

The first known use of patchwork was in 1634

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near patchwork

patch up


patchwork quilt

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for patchwork

Last Updated

7 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Patchwork.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for patchwork


patch·​work | \ ˈpach-ˌwərk How to pronounce patchwork (audio) \

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.

More from Merriam-Webster on patchwork

Nglish: Translation of patchwork for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of patchwork for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about patchwork


Test Your Vocabulary

Name That Food

  • a-light
  • Name these cookies!
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!