Etymology
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Words related to piecemeal

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.

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meal (n.1)

late 12c., mēl, "an occasion of taking food, a feast, a supply of food taken at one time for relief of hunger," also (c. 1200) "an appointed time for eating;" from Old English mæl, Anglian mēl, "fixed time, occasion; a meal," from Proto-Germanic *mela- (source also of Old Frisian mel "time;" Middle Dutch mael, Dutch maal "time; meal;" Old Norse mal "measure, time, meal;" German Mal "time," Mahl "meal;" Gothic mel "time, hour"), from PIE *me-lo-, from root *me- (2) "to measure."

Original sense of "time" is preserved in English in piecemeal; compare Middle English poundmele "by pounds at a time; generously." Meals-on-wheels for a social service offering home delivery of food to persons unable to purchase or prepare their own is attested by 1952 (from 1947 as a mobile food delivery service without reference to social services). Meal ticket first attested 1865 in literal sense of "ticket of admission to a dining hall;" figurative sense of "source of income or livelihood" is from 1899.

inchmeal (adv.)

"by inches, inch by inch," 1580s, from inch (n.1) + Middle English meal "fixed time, period of time, occasion" (see meal (n.1), and compare piecemeal).

*me- (2)
*mē-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to measure." Some words may belong instead to root *med- "to take appropriate measures."

It forms all or part of: amenorrhea; centimeter; commensurate; diameter; dimension; gematria; geometry; immense; isometric; meal (n.1) "food, time for eating;" measure; menarche; meniscus; menopause; menses; menstrual; menstruate; mensural; meter (n.1) "poetic measure;" meter (n.2) unit of length; meter (n.3) "device for measuring;" -meter; Metis; metric; metrical; metronome; -metry; Monday; month; moon; parameter; pentameter; perimeter; piecemeal; semester; symmetry; thermometer; trigonometry; trimester.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit mati "measures," matra "measure;" Avestan, Old Persian ma- "to measure;" Greek metron "measure," metra "lot, portion;" Latin metri "to measure."