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from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adv. By a small amount at a time; in stages: articles acquired piecemeal.
  • adv. In pieces; apart.
  • adj. Accomplished or made in stages.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Made or done in pieces or one stage at a time.
  • adv. Piece by piece; in small amounts, stages, or degrees.
  • adv. Into pieces or parts.
  • v. To divide or distribute piecemeal; dismember.
  • n. A fragment; a scrap.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adv. In pieces; in parts or fragments.
  • adv. Piece by piece; by little and little in succession.
  • adj. Made up of parts or pieces; single; separate.
  • n. A fragment; a scrap.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • By pieces; bit by bit; little by little; gradually: often pleonastically by piecemeal.
  • In pieces; in or into bits or fragments.
  • Fragmentary; disconnected.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adv. a little bit at a time
  • adj. one thing at a time


Middle English pecemeale : pece, piece; see piece + -mele, by a fixed measure (from Old English -mǣlum, at a time, from dative pl. of mǣl, appointed time; see mē-2 in Indo-European roots).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English pecemele, from pece ("piece") + mele (from Old English mǣlum ("at a time"), dative plural form of mǣl ("time, measure")), taking the place of Old English styċċemǣlum ("in pieces, bit by bit, piecemeal; to pieces, to bits; here and there, in different places; little by little, by degrees, gradually"); equivalent to piece +‎ -meal. (Wiktionary)



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  • Nonbacktracking subremovedalso known as a "greedy" subexpression). The subexpression is fully matched once, and then does not participate piecemeal in backtracking. (That is, the subexpression matches only strings that would be matched by the subexpression alone.)

    June 3, 2010

  • really should be the name of this list!

    May 24, 2008