n. & v.
n. 1 a (often foll. by of) one of the distinct portions forming part of or broken off from a larger object; a bit; a part (a piece of string). b each of the parts of which a set or category is composed (a five-piece band; a piece of furniture). 2 a coin of specified value (50p piece). 3 a a usu. short literary or musical composition or a picture. b a theatrical play. 4 an item, instance, or example (a piece of impudence; a piece of news). 5 a any of the objects used to make moves in board-games. b a chessman (strictly, other than a pawn). 6 a definite quantity in which a thing is sold. 7 (often foll. by of) an enclosed portion (of land etc.). 8 derog. sl. a woman. 9 US (foll. by of) sl. a financial share or investment in (has a piece of the new production).
v.tr. 1 (usu. foll. by together) form into a whole; put together; join (finally pieced his story together). 2 (usu. foll. by out) a eke out. b form (a theory etc.) by combining parts etc. 3 (usu. foll. by up) patch. 4 join (threads) in spinning. break to pieces break into fragments. by the piece (paid) according to the quantity of work done. go to pieces collapse emotionally; suffer a breakdown. in one piece 1 unbroken. 2 unharmed. in pieces broken. of a piece (often foll. by with) uniform, consistent, in keeping. piece-goods fabrics, esp. Lancashire cottons, woven in standard lengths. a piece of cake see CAKE. piece of eight hist. a Spanish dollar, equivalent to 8 reals. piece of goods sl. derog. a woman. a piece of one's mind a sharp rebuke or lecture. piece of water a small lake etc. piece of work a thing made by working (cf. nasty piece of work). piece-rates a rate paid according to the amount produced. piece-work work paid for by the amount produced. say one's piece give one's opinion or make a prepared statement. take to pieces 1 break up or dismantle. 2 criticize harshly. piecer n. (in sense 4 of v.).
[ ME f. AF pece, OF piece f. Rmc, prob. of Gaulish orig.: cf. PEAT ]