1 of 2


piece·​meal ˈpēs-ˌmēl How to pronounce piecemeal (audio)
: one piece at a time : gradually
: in pieces or fragments : apart


2 of 2


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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web
If Reddit wouldn’t ban the users outright, volunteers would do it piecemeal. Paresh Dave, WIRED, 14 Mar. 2024 Key to drinking water supply, wildlife The county purchased the first 10,000 acres of the preserve in 1986, and more tracts of land were added piecemeal over the next dozen years. Ryan Ballogg, Miami Herald, 29 Feb. 2024 At best, Biden has found a way to achieve piecemeal what he was prohibited from achieving in one fell swoop. The Editors, National Review, 22 Feb. 2024 Johnson has hinted at the possibility of breaking apart the Senate package to vote piecemeal on the foreign aid provisions. Marianna Sotomayor, Washington Post, 16 Feb. 2024 The land was owned piecemeal by various agencies and private landowners, many of whom weren’t happy with the people trespassing on their property. Nicole Blanchard, Idaho Statesman, 31 Jan. 2024 The ability to gut-renovate an entire campus instead of patching up problems piecemeal opens up a new set of options. Curbed, 9 Jan. 2024 But the few hostage testimonies that have been made public so far have been piecemeal, in many cases conveyed secondhand through family members. Max Kim, Los Angeles Times, 20 Dec. 2023 This is what a savvy, and perhaps ruthless, tech company intent on cornering a market does, and has done ever since — press its advantage to snap up competing ideas or companies, wholesale, sometimes, but piecemeal too. Brian Merchant, Los Angeles Times, 5 Oct. 2023
Many of the obstacles to any exit ramp need to be removed simultaneously, rather than in a piecemeal fashion, said Mr. Koplow, the Israel Policy Forum analyst. Patrick Kingsley, New York Times, 5 Apr. 2024 But the administration had a backup plan: The Department of Education would leverage the Higher Education Act of 1965, utilizing the neg reg process to adjust the law and enable relief in a more piecemeal fashion. USA TODAY, 18 Jan. 2024 The problems of Palestinian governance need more than piecemeal reforms, new laws, or a yet another set of ministers. Raja Khalidi, Foreign Affairs, 19 Mar. 2024 Data protections for Americans are piecemeal, and compliance with the complex federal and state data privacy laws can be costly for industry. Carlos Ignacio Gutierrez, IEEE Spectrum, 7 Mar. 2024 Characters from the series’ ancillary media and spin-offs are woven into the story retroactively to create a master text from the piecemeal lore created by years of spin-offs, but not all of them work. Christopher Cruz, Rolling Stone, 22 Feb. 2024 And legislative efforts that take a piecemeal approach or fail to examine unintended consequences in the short and longer term, compound the problem. Rita Numerof, Forbes, 28 Feb. 2024 To avoid social instability, the Chinese leadership is likely to embrace piecemeal or sector-specific measures to partially alleviate economic pressures. Laura He, CNN, 24 Aug. 2023 These regional, piecemeal solutions might provide international actors a template for how to deal with the Taliban in the short term. Graeme Smith, Foreign Affairs, 11 Aug. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'piecemeal.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1593, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near piecemeal

Cite this Entry

“Piecemeal.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/piecemeal. Accessed 18 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 adverb
piece·​meal ˈpē-ˌsmēl How to pronounce piecemeal (audio)
: one piece at a time : gradually
: in pieces : apart


2 of 2 adjective
: done, made, or accomplished piece by piece or in an incomplete way
piecemeal reforms

More from Merriam-Webster on piecemeal

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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