piecemeal (adv.)

c. 1300 (originally two words), from piece (n.) + Middle English meal "fixed time, period of time, occasion," from Old English mælum "at a time," dative plural of mæl "appointed time, food served" (see meal (n.1)). The second element once was more common, as in Old English styccemælum "bit by bit," gearmælum "year by year," and compare inchmeal. One-word form from 15c.

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