Etymology
Advertisement
piece (v.)

c. 1400, pecen, "to mend (clothing) by adding pieces," from piece (n.1). Sense of "to join, unite or reunite, put together again" is from late 15c. Related: Pieced; piecing.

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
piece (n.2)

"a person, an individual," c. 1300, from piece (n.1), but in modern use contemptuous and commonly of women; the meaning "person regarded as a sex object" is by 1785. Compare piece of ass under ass (n.2); human beings colloquially have been piece of flesh from 1590s; also compare Latin scortum "bimbo, anyone available for a price," literally "skin."

PIECE. A wench. A damned good or bad piece; a girl who is more or less active and skilful in the amorous congress. Hence the (Cambridge) toast, may we never have a PIECE (peace) that will injure the constitution. [Dictionary of Buckish Slang, University Wit and Pickpocket Eloquence, London, 1811] 
Related entries & more 
piece (n.1)

c. 1200, pece, "fixed amount, measure, portion;" c. 1300, "fragment of an object, bit of a whole, slice of meat; separate fragment, section, or part," from Old French piece "piece, bit portion; item; coin" (12c.), from Vulgar Latin *pettia, probably from Gaulish *pettsi (compare Welsh peth "thing," Breton pez "piece, a little"), perhaps from an Old Celtic base *kwezd-i-, from PIE root *kwezd- "a part, piece" (source also of Russian chast' "part"). Related: Pieces.

Meaning "separate article forming part of a class or group" is from c. 1400; that of "specimen, instance, example" is from 1560s. Sense of "portable firearm" is from 1580s, earlier "artillery weapon" (1540s). The meaning "chessman" is from 1560s. Meaning "a period of time" is from early 14c.; that of "a portion of a distance" is from 1610s; that of "literary composition" dates from 1530s.

Piece of (one's) mind "one's opinion expressed bluntly" is from 1570s. Piece of work "remarkable person" echoes Hamlet. Piece as "a coin" is attested in English from c. 1400, hence piece of eight, old name for the Spanish dollar (c. 1600) of the value of 8 reals and bearing a numeral 8. Adverbial phrase in one piece "whole, undivided, without loss or injury" is by 1580s; of a piece "as of the same piece or whole" is from 1610s.

Related entries & more 
material (adj.)

mid-14c., "real, ordinary; earthly, drawn from the material world" (contrasted with spiritual, mental, supernatural), a term in scholastic philosophy and theology, from Old French material, materiel (14c.) and directly from Late Latin materialis (adj.) "of or belonging to matter," from Latin materia "matter, stuff, wood, timber" (see matter (n.)).

From late 14c. as "made of matter, having material existence; material, physical, substantial." From late 15c. as "important, relevant, necessary, pertaining to the matter or subject;" in the law of evidence, "of legal significance to the cause" (1580s).

Related entries & more 
material (n.)

late 14c., "component substance, matter from which a thing is made," from material (adj.).

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
eye-piece (n.)

also eyepiece, "the lens or combination of lenses to which the eye is applied in an optical instrument," 1738, from eye (n.) + piece (n.1).

Related entries & more 
cod-piece (n.)

also codpiece, mid-15c., in male costume c. 1450-1550, a bagged appendage to the front of close-fitting breeches, "often conspicuous and ornamented" [OED], from Old English codd "a bag, pouch, husk," in Middle English, "testicles" (cognate with Old Norse koddi "pillow; scrotum") + piece (n.1).

Related entries & more 
piece de resistance (n.)

"most important piece or feature," 1831, from French pièce de résistance, originally "the most substantial dish in a meal." Literally "piece of resistance;" there seems to be disagreement as to the exact signification.

Related entries & more 
patch (n.1)

"piece of cloth used to mend another material," late 14c., pacche, of obscure origin, perhaps a variant of pece, pieche, from Old North French pieche (see piece (n.1)), or from an unrecorded Old English word (Old English had claðflyhte for "a patch").

Meaning "portion of any surface different from what is around it" is from 1590s. That of "small piece of ground," especially one under cultivation, is from 1570s. As "small piece of plaster used on the face," to cover blemishes or enhance beauty is from 1590s. Phrase not a patch on "nowhere near as good as" is from 1860.

Related entries & more