from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A thing considered as a unit or an element of a larger thing, quantity, or class; a portion.
  • noun A portion or part that has been separated from a whole.
  • noun An object that is one member of a group or class.
  • noun An artistic, musical, or literary work or composition.
  • noun An instance; a specimen.
  • noun What one has to say about something; an opinion.
  • noun A coin.
  • noun One of the counters or figures used in playing various board games.
  • noun Any one of the chess figures other than a pawn.
  • noun Slang A firearm, especially a rifle.
  • noun Informal A given distance.
  • transitive verb To mend by adding pieces or a piece to.
  • transitive verb To join or unite the pieces of.
  • idiom (a piece of (one's) mind) Frank and severe criticism; censure.
  • idiom (of a piece) Belonging to the same class or kind.
  • idiom (piece by piece) In stages.
  • idiom (piece of ass) A person, especially a woman, considered sexually attractive.
  • idiom Informal (piece of cake) Something very easy to do.
  • idiom (piece of the action) A share of an activity or of profits.
  • idiom (piece of work) A remarkable person, achievement, or product.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To patch, repair, enlarge, extend, or complete by the addition of a piece or pieces: as, to piece a garment or a curtain.
  • To repair by the use of pieces of the same material, or without the addition of new material, as by bringing the unworn parts to the place where the most wear is; hence, to make good the defects of; strengthen; reinforce.
  • To unite or reunite (that which has been broken or separated); make one again; join or rejoin, as one thing to another, or as friends who have fallen out.
  • To unite by coalescence of parts; be gathered as parts into a whole.
  • To eat a “piece”; eat between meals, as a child.
  • noun A relatively small portion in bulk or extent forming a part of the whole in which it is or was included; a part; bit; morsel: as, a piece of bread or of chalk; a piece of ground; a piece of history; a piece of one's mind.
  • noun A separate bit; a fragment: as, to fall to pieces; to break, tear, cut, or dash to pieces.
  • noun A specimen, instance, example, or sort: as, a piece of impudence; a piece of carelessness.
  • noun A separate article; a thing: as, a piece of plate.
  • noun A coin: as, a piece of eight (see phrase below); a fourpenny piece.
  • noun A cannon or gun; a firearm: as, his piece was not loaded; a fowling-piece.
  • noun A building; a castle.
  • noun A ship; a vessel.
  • noun A distinct artistic or literary production; a separate article, poem, drama, painting, statue, or other artistic or literary work: as, a piece of music; to speak a piece; a finely painted piece.
  • noun A lunch; a snack.
  • noun A distinct job or operation taken separately; the amount of work done or to be done at any one time: as, to work by the piece; to do piece-work.
  • noun A definite and continuous quantity; a definite length, as of some textile fabric delivered by a manufacturer to the trade; a whole web of cloth or a whole roll of wall-paper: as, goods sold only by the piece; a whole piece of lace.
  • noun In brewing, a quantity of grain steeped and spread out at one time to make malt. Also called floor.
  • noun A plot of ground; a lot; a field; a clearing.
  • noun An individual; a person: now used only contemptuously, and commonly of women: as, she is a bold piece.
  • noun In chess, checkers, etc., one of the men with which the game is played; specifically, in chess, one of the superior men, as distinguished from a pawn.
  • noun A cup or drinking-vessel: also used indefinitely for a cask or barrel of wine, as the equivalent of the French pièce, which has different values in different parts of France.
  • noun In bookbinding, a tablet of leather which fills a panel on the back of a book.
  • noun In whaling, specifically, a section or chunk of blubber, more fully called blanket-piece (which see, below).
  • noun In entomology, any definitely hardened or chitinized part of the integument, especially of the abdomen, thorax, or head: technically called a sclerite.
  • noun See the qualifying words.
  • noun A small portion of time; a little while.
  • noun In fireworks, a piece, more or less elaborate, which is fastened to a standard, and when it is ignited, shows a design, such as a face, etc.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • intransitive verb To unite by a coalescence of parts; to fit together; to join.


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

[Middle English pece, from Old French, from Vulgar Latin *pettia, probably of Celtic origin.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Middle English pece, from Anglo-Norman peece, peice et al. and Old French pece, piece et al., apparently from Late Latin *pettia, *pettium. Ultimate origin uncertain; perhaps from Transalpine Gaulish (compare Welsh peth, Breton pez ("thing"), Irish cuid ("part")).


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