piece·​meal | \ ˈpēs-ˌmēl How to pronounce piecemeal (audio) , -ˈmēl \

Definition of piecemeal

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : one piece at a time : gradually
2 : in pieces or fragments : apart



Definition of piecemeal (Entry 2 of 2)

: done, made, or accomplished piece by piece or in a fragmentary way piecemeal reforms in the system

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Synonyms & Antonyms for piecemeal

Synonyms: Adverb

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adverb

Antonyms: Adjective

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Examples of piecemeal in a Sentence

Adverb remodeled their house piecemeal because of budgetary constraints one well-aimed blow ripped the piñata piecemeal Adjective They've done piecemeal repairs in the past, but the bridge now needs major reconstruction. Some people want the changes to be made all at once, but I think we should take a more piecemeal approach.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb It could be divided piecemeal based on who ordered what, by uploading a picture of the receipt. Meredith Carey, Condé Nast Traveler, "This App Solved My Biggest Problem With Group Travel," 23 Sep. 2019 The response from Indian politicians has been piecemeal. The Economist, "India’s toxic smog is a common affliction in middle-income countries," 9 Nov. 2019 Instead, information emerges piecemeal, generating fresh headlines each time. New York Times, "‘A Few Dirty Tricks’: Documents Show Audi’s Role in the Volkswagen Emissions Scandal," 26 July 2019 The fallout from the disclosure of Epstein’s relationships with leading intellectuals began piecemeal this summer. Washington Post, "Jeffrey Epstein, the academy and questions about male dominance in science," 17 Sep. 2019 The response was piecemeal, lacking a grand plan, strategic vision or large-scale mobilisation of public money. The Economist, "India’s government is scrambling to revive the economy," 31 Aug. 2019 It was worked piecemeal and couldn’t be held in my brain in its entirety. David Means, Harper's magazine, "A writer alone with the work," 10 Apr. 2019 In any case, Apple is expected to roll out updates piecemeal over iOS 12's lifetime rather than front loading them in one big update. Samuel Axon, Ars Technica, "WWDC 2018: What we expect Apple to announce on June 4," 1 June 2018 To avoid feeling overwhelmed by this task, tackle it piecemeal, a room, closet, shelf, drawer at a time. Jane E. Brody, charlotteobserver, "How to age well and stay in your home," 27 June 2018 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Today, data management and privacy controls come in the form of either tedious piecemeal offerings or one-size-fits-all solutions. Wired Opinion, Wired, "Personal Data Is Valuable. Give Pricing Power to the People," 7 Jan. 2020 Most of the tech components—including ones that reduce fuel consumption and control emergency braking systems—have already been deployed in piecemeal fashion. Aaron Pressman, Fortune, "Autonomous Trains Are Ready to Roll," 29 July 2019 Shell previously sold most of its Haynesville position five years ago, but still had some piecemeal remaining acreage. Jordan Blum, Houston Chronicle, "Shell sells last of its Haynesville position," 30 Dec. 2019 The plan is part of a 2020 agenda that Mr. Cuomo will unveil at the annual State of State speech on Jan. 8, but that his office began to tease out in piecemeal fashion this month. New York Times, "New York State Moves to Ban Foam Food Containers," 23 Dec. 2019 According to Raviv and the other business owners CNN spoke with, this piecemeal process means listings are often online for several days, leading to a significant window when consumers can buy the potentially dangerous product. Pamela Boykoff And Clare Sebastian, CNN, "Fake and dangerous kids products are turning up for sale on Amazon," 20 Dec. 2019 Currently, the nonprofit theater uses about 10 different locations for its productions, classrooms, offices, storage facilities and the like, juggling them in piecemeal style. Mary Colurso | Mcolurso@al.com, al, "Red Mountain Theatre Company breaks ground for $25 million arts campus in Birmingham," 13 Dec. 2019 Xbox Game Studios has made clear that this piecemeal launch on PC is intentional. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Halo Reach on PC is the customizable combat we’ve been wanting—but just barely," 6 Dec. 2019 The Obama-era taxes have previously been suspended on a piecemeal basis. CBS News, "$1.4 trillion spending package crammed with unrelated provisions," 17 Dec. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'piecemeal.' 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 piecemeal


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1593, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for piecemeal

Time Traveler

The first known use of piecemeal was in the 14th century

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Statistics for piecemeal

Last Updated

5 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Piecemeal.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/piecemeal. Accessed 26 January 2020.

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More Definitions for piecemeal



English Language Learners Definition of piecemeal

: done or made in a gradual way in a series of separate steps


piece·​meal | \ ˈpēs-ˌmēl How to pronounce piecemeal (audio) \

Kids Definition of piecemeal

: one piece at a time : little by little The repairs were made piecemeal.

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Comments on piecemeal

What made you want to look up piecemeal? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to express in a more acceptable way

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