Etymology
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stucco (n.)
fine plaster used as a wall coating, 1590s, from Italian stucco, from a Germanic source (compare Old High German stukki "crust, piece, fragment"), from Proto-Germanic *stukkjam, from PIE root *(s)teu- (1) "to push, stick, knock, beat" (see stock (n.1)). The verb is attested from 1726. Related: Stuccoed; stuccoing.
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paltry (adj.)

"mean, worthless, despicable," 1560s, probably an adjectival use of noun paltry "worthless thing" (1550s), associated with dialectal palt, pelt "trash," cognate with Middle Low German and East Frisian palte "rag," Middle Dutch palt "broken or torn fragment." Similar formation in Low German paltrig "rubbishy," East Frisian palterig "ragged, torn."

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nip (n.1)

"small measure of strong spirits," 1796, slang shortening of nipperkin (1670s) "quantity of beer or liquor of a half pint or less," possibly of Dutch or Low German origin (compare German Nipp "sip, taste") and related to nip (v.). Reinforced by nip (n.2) in its secondary sense of "fragment or bit pinched off" (c. 1600).

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eclat (n.)
1670s, "showy brilliance," from French éclat "splinter, fragment" (12c.), also "flash of brilliance," from eclater "burst out; shine brilliantly; splinter, fly to fragments," from Old French esclater "smash, shatter into pieces," which is of uncertain origin, perhaps from a Germanic word related to slit (v.) and to Old High German skleizen "tear to pieces; to split, cleave." Extended sense of "conspicuous success" is first recorded in English in 1741.
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fritter (v.)
"whittle away, waste bit by bit, spend on trifles," 1728, probably from noun fritter "fragment or shred" (though this is recorded later), perhaps an alteration of 16c. fitters "fragments or pieces," which is perhaps ultimately from Old French fraiture "a breaking," from Latin fractura [OED]. Or perhaps from a Germanic *fet-source (compare Middle High German vetze "clothes, rags," Old English fetel "girdle").
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slab (n.)
late 13c., "large, flat mass," of unknown origin, possibly related to Old French escopel, escalpe "thin fragment of wood," which according to Klein is possibly a Gaulish word (compare Breton scolp, Welsh ysgolp "splinter, chip"). But OED rejects this on formal grounds. Meaning "rectangular block of pre-cast concrete used in building" is from 1927. Slab-sided is "having flat sides like slabs," hence "tall and lank" (1817, American English).
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nip (n.2)

"a pinch; a sharp bite," 1540s, from nip (v.). Sense of "a small bit of anything, fragment or bit pinched off" is from c. 1600. Meaning "a chill in the weather" is from 1610s, probably so called for its effect on vegetation. Nip and tuck "a close thing," especially a close approach to equality in the results of a horse race or any competition, is recorded by 1847, American English, perhaps an image from sailing or tailoring.

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lean (adj.)
"thin, spare, with little flesh or fat," c. 1200, from Old English hlæne "lean, thin," possibly (Skeat) from hlænan "cause to lean or bend," from Proto-Germanic *khlainijan, which would connect it to Old English hleonian (see lean (v.)). But perhaps rather, according to OED, from a PIE *qloinio- (with cognates in Lithuanian klynas "scrap, fragment," Lettish kleins "feeble"). Extended and figurative senses from early 14c. In business jargon, paired with mean (adj.) from 1970s to suggest aggressiveness as if from hunger.
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particle (n.)

late 14c., "a bit or fragment, small part or division of a whole, minute portion of matter," from Latin particula "little bit or part, grain, jot," diminutive of pars (genitive partis) "a part, piece, division" (from PIE root *pere- (2) "to grant, allot"). In grammar, "a part of speech considered of minor consequence or playing a subordinate part in the construction of a sentence" (1530s). Particle physics, which is concerned with sub-atomic particles, is attested from 1969. In construction, particle board (1957) is so called because it is made from chips and shavings of wood.

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flaw (n.)
early 14c., "a flake" (of snow), also in Middle English "a spark of fire; a splinter," from Old Norse flaga "stone slab, layer of stone" (see flag (n.2)), perhaps used here in an extended sense. Old English had floh stanes, but the Middle English form suggests a Scandinavian origin. "The close resemblance in sense between flaw and flake is noteworthy" [OED]. Sense of "defect, fault" first recorded 1580s, first of character, later (c. 1600) of material things; probably via notion of a "fragment" broken off.
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