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

Keep scrolling for more

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
See More
Recent Examples on the Web The growing patchwork of state internet sales taxes that has emerged since the landmark 2018 Supreme Court decision regarding out-of-state online sellers has hamstrung small businesses with costly compliance burdens. Jay Heflin, Washington Examiner, "Small retailers face compliance headache from explosion of internet sales taxes," 2 Feb. 2020 Lim Kim’s Generasian is the rare exception of an album removed from the industry that constantly stuns for its maximalist patchwork of sounds. Billboard Staff, Billboard, "The 25 Best K-pop Albums of 2019: Critics' Picks," 31 Dec. 2019 The logical endpoint is financial platforms—perhaps super-apps that sit on smartphones—which would let customers stitch their patchwork of financial products back together. The Economist, "Wealth managers are promising business-class service for the masses," 18 Dec. 2019 Together, Hopkins and Pryce lift Popes above its loose patchwork of monologue, flashback, and personal reckoning, and let the movie get down to its truest root: scaling the mystery that makes all men, even the most unknowable and sacrosanct, human. Leah Greenblatt,, "The Two Popes is a talky, intimate drama that cracks the papal mystery: Review," 9 Dec. 2019 But this may well be one of the city’s greatest virtues: Its patchwork of neighborhoods are like incubators of culture. Los Angeles Times, "On a busy Inglewood corner, this cafe feels like a secret tea oasis," 28 Sep. 2019 Small town by small town, Klobuchar is weaving together a patchwork of supporters in red counties with her no-nonsense thread. Molly Longman,, "The Case For Amy Klobuchar," 14 Jan. 2020 Cannabis faces a patchwork of regulations and rules. Kimberly Leonard, Washington Examiner, "Daily on Healthcare: House panel set to weigh in on weed," 9 Jan. 2020 The administration has also argued that automakers should have to adhere to one national standard, not a patchwork of state rules. Dustin Gardiner,, "Trump-aligned automakers would be barred from federal sales under new bill," 7 Jan. 2020

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.

See More

First Known Use of patchwork

1634, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

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

Statistics for patchwork

Last Updated

8 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Patchwork.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Feb. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for patchwork


How to pronounce patchwork (audio)

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 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.

Keep scrolling for more

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).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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