from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A product or manufactured article, especially an item of art or craft.
  • noun idiomatic, often derogatory A person who has a strong and unusual personality, especially one with seriously unpleasant character flaws (e.g. a nasty piece of work).

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

  • noun a product produced or accomplished through the effort or activity or agency of a person or thing


Sorry, no etymologies found.


    Sorry, no example sentences found.


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  • difficult person to deal with

    November 24, 2009

  • More like a devious or malicious person, no?

    November 25, 2009

  • I expect today's colloquial expression, as in: "That Madge, she's a real piece of work!" comes from the sense of someone who is complex or complicated, not easy to figure out. This is an ironic twist on a phrase whose origin is almost certainly Shakespeare (Hamlet, II, ii): "What a piece of work is man! how noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form and moving, how express and admirable! in action, how like an angel! in apprehension, how like a god! the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals!"

    November 25, 2009

  • That's funny, this phrase always seems to make sense when used in context. On its own, though, I'm not really sure what it's supposed to mean. It's on par with saying "that's really something" with a sly tone and a knowing look. As if such a phrase has any literal meaning at all.

    November 25, 2009

  • Good point, rolig. "Piece" in that sense, then, doesn't mean "part" but is more like "piece" in "piece of art." An example, a paragon? So something like "what an example of workmanship?"

    Uselessness-- then there's something else. Else than what?

    November 25, 2009