top of page



How to pronounce piecemeal (audio)


Monster Trucks in Space

Download your free e-book. Promotion ends tomorrow.

Dictionary definition of piecemeal

Done or happening in a gradual or incremental manner, involving the completion of individual parts or tasks one at a time, rather than all at once.
"The employee's workload was assigned piecemeal, with tasks given out as they arose."

Detailed meaning of piecemeal

When a process or task is characterized as piecemeal, it means that it is broken down into individual, separate components or stages that are completed one after the other, often with pauses or interruptions in between. This approach can sometimes lack efficiency or coherence, as each piece is addressed independently without considering the larger whole. For example, a piecemeal approach to renovating a house might involve fixing one room at a time, rather than tackling the entire project holistically. In some contexts, "piecemeal" can also imply that something is being done without a clear overall plan or strategy, leading to a disjointed or haphazard outcome.

Example sentences containing piecemeal

1. The renovation of the old house was done piecemeal, one room at a time.
2. She read the novel piecemeal, a chapter here and there, over the course of weeks.
3. The project progressed piecemeal due to budget constraints.
4. The company adopted changes to its policies piecemeal, addressing issues as they arose.
5. The information was revealed to the public piecemeal, causing confusion.
6. He assembled the furniture piecemeal, following the vague instructions.

History and etymology of piecemeal

The adverb 'piecemeal' has its origins in Middle English, where it was 'pisemele,' a combination of 'pie' (piece) and 'mele' (measure). This term evolved from Old English 'pǣcel,' which meant 'a piece at a time.' 'Piecemeal' entered the English language in the 14th century. The adverb describes something done or happening in a gradual or incremental manner, involving the completion of individual parts or tasks one at a time, rather than all at once. The etymology of 'piecemeal' effectively conveys the idea of dealing with something in measured portions or stages, emphasizing the incremental and step-by-step approach to achieving a larger goal or completing a complex task. Whether it's accomplishing a project piecemeal or solving a problem piece by piece, this term underscores the methodical and gradual nature of the process.

Quiz: Find the meaning of piecemeal

Try Again!


Further usage examples of piecemeal

1. The team tackled the complex problem piecemeal, breaking it into smaller tasks.
2. The city's infrastructure improvements happened piecemeal over the years.
3. The data was collected piecemeal from various sources, making analysis challenging.
4. The organization implemented new software piecemeal, module by module.
5. The puzzle was solved piecemeal, with individual sections completed first.
6. She managed her workload piecemeal, handling urgent tasks as they came.
7. The company's expansion plan was executed piecemeal, targeting different markets over time.
8. His memories of the event came back to him piecemeal, in fragments.
9. The negotiation process was slow, with agreements reached piecemeal on different issues.
10. The artist created the masterpiece piecemeal, adding layers of paint over time.
11. The reform was introduced piecemeal, leading to inconsistent changes.
12. The website redesign was done piecemeal, updating sections independently.
13. The team made progress on the project piecemeal, with different members contributing at different times.
14. The old car was repaired piecemeal, with various parts replaced over the years.



gradual, whole, simultaneous, all at once


ACT 14 (American College Testing), High School 17, Arrangement and Order

bottom of page