Date: 1100-1200
Language: Old French
Origin: Vulgar Latin pettia


1 noun
piece1 S1 W1 [countable]


an amount of something that has been separated from the main part
piece of
He broke off a piece of bread and gave it her.
Cut off a piece of wood 5 cm in length.
His trousers were held up with a piece of string.
Would you like a small or a large piece?
cut/divide etc something into pieces
She cut the cake into four equal pieces.
Chop the potato into bite-sized pieces.


one of the parts that something divides or breaks into
piece of
a piece of broken glass
Individual pieces of text can be cut and pasted to their correct position.
in pieces
The china dish lay in pieces on the floor.
jigsaw pieces
His father had taught him how to take a gun to pieces.
The shelving comes to pieces (=divides into separate parts) for easy transport.
The shower head just came to pieces (=broke into separate parts) in my hand.
The fireplace was carefully dismantled piece by piece (=one part at a time).

single item

a single thing of a particular type, or something that is one of several similar things
piece of
Pass me another piece of paper.
You should eat three pieces of fruit a day.
She was wearing a single piece of jewellery.
You need to examine every piece of evidence first.
an excellent piece of work
a major piece of legislation
a piece of equipment
four-piece/60-piece etc (=consisting of four, 60 etc separate parts)
a five-piece band
a three-piece suite (=two chairs and a sofa)

small amount

[usually singular] a small amount of something that is interesting, useful, or unusual in some way
piece of advice/information/gossip etc
Let me give you a piece of advice.
We're witnessing a piece of history in the making.
piece of luck/good fortune
It really was an extraordinary piece of luck.


an area of land
piece of
a piece of waste ground
a dispute about a piece of land

fall to pieces

a) to become old and in bad condition:
All my clothes are falling to pieces.
They've let that lovely old house fall to pieces around them.
b) to no longer be successful or working well:
The economy is falling to pieces.

go to pieces

if a person or what they do goes to pieces, they are so upset or nervous that they cannot live, work, or perform as they should:
He just went to pieces after his wife died.
Her performance goes to pieces when her father is watching.

smash/rip/tear something to pieces

to damage something badly by breaking it into many parts:
His arm was ripped to pieces by a shark.
Wear thick gloves, otherwise you'll tear your fingers to pieces.

pull/rip/tear somebody/something to pieces

to criticize someone or their ideas very severely:
Donna could tear your work to pieces, and frequently did.

art/music etc

A something that has been produced by an artist, musician, or writer
piece of music/writing/sculpture etc
some unusual pieces of sculpture
The LSO will perform a much-loved concert piece.

news item

TCN a short article in a newspaper or magazine or part of a television or radio programme that is about a particular subject
piece about/on
Did you read that piece in the Observer about censorship?
Robert wrote a short piece on the earthquake.

in one piece

informal if you arrive somewhere in one piece, you are not injured:
Cheer up. At least you're still in one piece.
Ring mum and let her know we got here in one piece.

give somebody a piece of your mind

informal to tell someone that you are very angry with them:
After the game he gave the players a piece of his mind.

be a piece of cake

informal to be very easy to do:
Landing this type of aircraft is a piece of cake for an experienced pilot.

be a piece of piss

British English spoken not polite to be very easy to do

a piece of the action

informal a share of the money from a business activity:
And will foreign firms get a piece of the action?

be (all) of a piece

a) if the things someone says or does are all of a piece, they are part of the typical behaviour of that person
be (all) of a piece with
Sexist language is all of a piece with the way some men treat women.
b) to be the same or similar in all parts:
The architecture here is all of a piece.


a) a coin of a particular value
ten pence/fifty-cent etc piece
Have you change for a 50-cent piece?
b) old usePEC a coin:
Robert slipped two gold pieces into the man's hand.


DGB a small object used in a game such as chess


American English informal a small gun

be a piece of shit/crap

spoken not polite used to show that you do not respect someone or something they say

piece of ass

American English informal not polite an offensive expression for a woman. Do not use this expression.

➔ how long is a piece of string?

at long1 (9)

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