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Piecemeal

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Piecemeal

Postby Dr. Goodword » Thu Oct 24, 2013 9:57 pm

• piecemeal •


Pronunciation: pees-meel • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adverb, Adjective

Meaning: Slowly and piece by piece, bit by bit, one piece at a time; inchmeal.

Notes: Given the fact that fishmeal and bonemeal are nouns, it is odd, to say the least, that today's Good Word is an adjective and an adverb. The reason is related to the fact that English has two words, meal, spelled and pronounced identically. Piecemeal is related to the word meaning "time of eating or what is eaten during that time". But, as the Word History will show, it originally meant "a measure".

In Play: Things may grow piecemeal: "The Roman Empire grew piecemeal, country by country, over the course of several hundred years." Things may also be reduced piecemeal: "Gloria noticed that someone with very small fingers was removing the cake from the counter piecemeal."

Word History: English piece was borrowed from French, which inherited it from Late Latin petia "piece of land". We don't know how Latin happened upon this word, for it doesn't occur in other Indo-European languages. Latin may have borrowed it from a Celtic language, perhaps from an ancestor of Breton pezh "piece, share" or Welsh peth "thing, affair". Meal, on the other hand, descended from Old English mael "measure, time of day". The latter sense narrowed to refer to the times of day for eating and thence to that which is eaten. But the meaning of "measure" remained in compound words like piecemeal and inchmeal. This meal, not the one referring to ground grain, is related to many words referring to measure, including measure, meter, and immense, to mention but a few.
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Re: Piecemeal

Postby LukeJavan8 » Fri Oct 25, 2013 1:25 pm

Our country, as well as the Roman Empire,
grew piecemeal as well.
-----please, draw me a sheep-----
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Re: Piecemeal

Postby MTC » Fri Oct 25, 2013 6:18 pm

Random musings from the antipodes:

Inchmeal! That's a keeper.

inch·meal
ˈinCHˌmēl
adverb
1.
by inches; little by little.
"inchmeal he advanced up the slope"

Much more gritty and textured than "incrementally," e.g., "incrementally he advanced up the slope."

The power of piggyback.

"Piecemeal" gives a lift to its homonym, "peacemeal," the proper name of a number of food-related charities.

Slicing baloney (piecemeal)

China's piecemeal strategy to control the Spratly Islands (and their rich reserves of oil and natural gas) in the South China Sea. Excellent article in the N.Y. Times with video and sound:http://www.nytimes.com/newsgraphics/2013/10/27/south-china-sea/
"What China has done with Mischief, Scarborough and now with Ayungin (a few of the Spratly islands) is what the journalist Robert Haddick described, writing in Foreign Policy, as “salami slicing” or “the slow accumulation of actions, none of which is a casus belli, but which add up over time to a major strategic change.”

The opening video is quite drawn out to emphasize the "island's" remoteness and isolation. Skip ahead if you get
bored.

Your correspondent in Kunming, signing off for now...
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