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

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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

Now, new moms can ditch the loose patchwork of hacks and work-arounds, and instead get products that solve a lot of the pain points new moms feel in their recovery. Marisa Lascala, Good Housekeeping, "Postpartum Underwear Just Got a Huge Upgrade With Frida Mom's New Post-Birth Recovery Line," 31 July 2019 Trying to change Past efforts to address women’s health at the state level could best be described as a patchwork of public and private programs with varying degrees of success. Anna Claire Vollers |,, "Deaths from pregnancy and child birth are often preventable; Alabama finally starts to take notice," 9 June 2019 The aviation industry has sought uniform regulations around the world, rather than a patchwork of different requirements. Maxine Joselow, Scientific American, "Trump Administration to Issue First Emissions Limits for Planes," 29 May 2019 The collection includes a sofa and two chairs, each designed with patchwork and made in modern, spherical shapes. Brooke Bobb, Vogue, "These Chairs Were Designed Using Recycled Clothing From Maison Margiela, Off-White, Raf Simons, and More," 22 Apr. 2019 Small-jawed with dainty teeth, able to walk upright but with feet still shaped to climb, these island creatures were a mix-and-match patchwork of primitive and advanced features in a unique variation of the human form, the... Robert Lee Hotz, WSJ, "Fossil Evidence of New Human Species Found in Philippines," 10 Apr. 2019 University leaders are worried that a patchwork of new restrictions could cause confusion and chill research, and so have backed a bill that would establish an inter-agency working group to coordinate efforts to protect federally funded research. Teresa Watanabe, Los Angeles Times, "Trump is cracking down on China. Now UC campuses are paying the price," 22 July 2019 The patchwork of separate fences and walls eventually formed a continuous barrier between white and black portions of the city. Ryan Prior, CNN, "A storm destroyed part of the 'segregation wall' in Arlington, Virginia," 10 July 2019 The usual patchwork of prim green fields is receding from the flanks of Pueblo Llano’s imposing, sunbathed mountains as farmers retreat closer to the only gas station in the hope of gaining an advantage. Anatoly Kurmanaev, New York Times, "A Fuel Shortage Is Crippling Agriculture in Venezuela," 6 July 2019

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

9 Aug 2019

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 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.

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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).


not constant or steady

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