Definition of piece in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /piːs/


1A portion of an object or of material, produced by cutting, tearing, or breaking the whole: a piece of cheese the dish lay in pieces on the floor
More example sentences
  • In a second the whole sword was broken in pieces and Kashiro's attack continued.
  • Sections of main roads are completely broken to pieces.
  • Then she took out a lump of sandalwood from the wall cupboard, washed it, broke it in pieces, dissolved it in water and cleaned her face and arms with the paste.
bit, section, slice, chunk, segment, lump, hunk;
wedge, slab, knob, block, cake, bar, tablet, brick, cube, stick, length;
offcut, sample, particle, fragment, flake, sliver, splinter, wafer, chip, crumb, grain, speck, scrap, remnant, shred, shard, snippet, mite;
mouthful, morsel
British informal wodge
broken, in bits, shattered, smashed, in smithereens
informal bust
1.1An item used in constructing something: take a car to pieces
More example sentences
  • The scribble is constructed from 229 separate pieces of steel, weighs 25 tonnes and has 72 twists.
  • All of the pieces are cast or constructed in nonferrous metals, so that they resonate musically.
  • Sometimes pieces of the construct will be inserted as well as, or instead of, the full construct.
component, part, bit, section, segment, constituent, element;
unit, module
1.2An item forming part of a set: a piece of luggage
More example sentences
  • We treat house plants like a piece of the furniture that fills the same space in a room all year round.
  • The group consists of 32 dancers, eight singers and a 13 - piece band.
  • Five female vocalists belted out soul classics backed by a 14 - piece band.
1.3A financial share: each employee owns a piece of the company
More example sentences
  • When you buy a share of stock, you purchase a piece of the company. You become part owner of the company.
  • Unlike buying equity, investors do not own a piece of the company or government entity.
  • You can now give the gift of share ownership to a fan of The Walt Disney Company so they can own a piece of the company.
share, slice, portion, quota, part, bit, percentage, amount, quantity, ration, fraction, division, subdivision;
allocation, allotment, measure, apportionment
informal cut, whack, rake-off
rare quantum, moiety
2A written, musical, or artistic creation: a haunting piece of music
More example sentences
  • We're not trying to just write songs, we're trying to write musical pieces.
  • His close friendships with women produced some of the best-known pieces of music ever written by any composer; but they did not secure him a wife.
  • A child prodigy, he wrote his first piece of music at the age of five and completed his first symphony at the age of eight.
work of art, work;
musical work, composition, creation, production, opus
article, item, story, report, essay, study, review, composition, paper, column
3An instance or example: a crucial piece of evidence
More example sentences
  • Changing the public mood would require three crucial pieces of evidence.
  • But the crucial piece of evidence would be a description of a possible attacker.
  • It also showed that a crucial piece of evidence was a baseball cap dropped by the murderer as he ran from the off licence.
example, specimen, sample, instance, illustration, occurrence, case
4 [with modifier] A coin of specified value: a 10p piece
More example sentences
  • Is there any risk that the two euro coin will be mistaken for the Thai 10 baht piece, whose face value is eight times less?
  • They also included a selection of threepenny bits, a 1916 halfpenny and a penny piece from 1921.
  • Well, you have to admit it's slightly more plausible than upping the value of the penny piece to £1.
5A figure or token used to make moves in a board game: a chess piece
More example sentences
  • She was sat on her desk, moving some puzzles' pieces, trying to figure out something, maybe an image, or a letter.
  • Knowing this, you can try and figure out which pieces are which simply by how they're being moved.
  • It was an abstract race game called Tempo in which pieces were moved not by the roll of the dice, but by the playing of cards.
token, counter, man, disc, chip, marker
5.1 Chess A king, queen, bishop, knight, or rook, as opposed to a pawn: indicate which piece or pawn is taken
More example sentences
  • Here, however, you will find more coverage of endgames with more pieces and pawns.
  • This can be done by a pawn break or by a sacrifice involving pieces or pawns.
  • Though the Queen is the strongest piece, it is vulnerable to attack by weaker enemy units.
6 informal, chiefly North American A firearm.
Example sentences
  • Not every man knows his way around a shooting piece, but firearms are a manly art.
  • It will be surrounded by a two metre-deep trench and have only one entrance, which will be protected by artillery pieces and machine gun posts.
  • The cavalry turned in its horses for pack mules because mules could carry artillery pieces through rugged terrain.
7 informal, offensive A woman.
8Scottish A sandwich or other item of food taken as a snack.


[with object]
1 (piece something together) Assemble something from parts or pieces: the dinosaur was pieced together from 119 bones
More example sentences
  • In order to cover all the sky with a single beam, astronomers must piece it together from millions of separate observations, each of a single point.
  • Here, two irregular hemispheres were pieced together, as evidenced by a prominent groove that runs around the middle.
  • She says ‘I took this image of her in four separate images and pieced it together in Photoshop.’
put together, assemble, compose, construct, join up, fit together, join, unite, reassemble, reconstruct, put back together, mend, repair, patch up, sew (up);
build up a picture/impression of
1.1Slowly make sense of something from separate pieces of evidence: Daniel had pieced the story together from the radio
More example sentences
  • Anyone who has been awake and alert should have pieced the evidence together sufficiently to arrive at an understanding consistent with the one summarized in the Post story.
  • When the evidence is pieced together, it seems that evolution prepared what society later moulded: a brain to believe.
  • He's just got to judge the evidence as he pieces it together.
2 (piece something out) archaic Extend something: his coming and assisting them was like a cordial given to a dying man, which doth piece out his life
More example sentences
  • The Bishop simply "takes notice that the creed was pieced out."
3 archaic Patch (something): if it be broken it must be pieced
More example sentences
  • Many of the designs feature piecing fabric, colour blocking, quilting, and many are reversible as well.
  • Occasionally, a stenciled bedcover was pieced with traditional quilt blocks but was not quilted.
  • No matter how she pieced them, they contorted into something unacceptable.



a piece of ass (or tail)

vulgar slang A woman regarded as sexually attractive.

a piece of cake

see cake.

a piece (or slice) of the action

informal A share in an exciting or profitable enterprise: they’d underwrite the cost of the drilling in return for a piece of the action
More example sentences
  • Publishers, software makers, entertainment companies, and universities themselves are lining up to take a slice of the action.
  • They will now aspire to having a slice of the action.
  • It's no wonder that the players want a slice of the action.
share, portion, bit, cut, quota, percentage;
commission, dividend
informal whack, slice of the cake, rake-off

come (or fall) to pieces

Break into parts or become damaged: it splintered loudly and fell to pieces under his weight
More example sentences
  • My old paperback copy of City of Night is falling to pieces.
  • My only pair of smart shoes had fallen to pieces a few days earlier.
  • Most of these you see from the highway are falling to pieces.

go to pieces

Become so upset or nervous that one is unable to function normally: my mother went to pieces after his death
More example sentences
  • We were not complacent and we started off well but they had a lucky break and we went to pieces.
  • Her parents split when she was young, and her mother just… went to pieces.
  • Some of them go to pieces, some disintegrate, but others rebel.
have a (mental/nervous) breakdown, break down, go out of one's mind, crack, snap, lose control, lose one's head, fall apart
informal crack up, come/fall apart at the seams, disintegrate, freak, freak out, get in a stew
British informal go into a (flat) spin

in one piece

Unharmed or undamaged, especially after a dangerous experience: don’t worry, I’ll get you there in one piece
More example sentences
  • He is expected to perform at this team, just as he did at Williams, but he is also expected to score points by bringing the car home in one piece.
  • I was given a prompt refusal when I asked for a guarantee that my computer would reach Delhi in one piece.
  • When you meddle with them, you are lucky if you come out all in one piece.
unbroken, entire, whole, intact, undamaged, unharmed, unmarked, untouched, unspoilt
unhurt, uninjured, unscathed, safe, safe and sound

(all) of a piece

(Entirely) consistent: the art and science of any culture are of a piece
More example sentences
  • It is a beautiful object, all of a piece and remarkably consistent.
  • But it's also clear that this kind of ethnography and nature worship is thoroughly of a piece with her earlier work.
  • The covers are of a piece with the whole issue, setting a low-key and intriguing tone.
similar, alike, (exactly) the same, indistinguishable, undistinguishable, identical, uniform, of the same kind, twin, interchangeable, undifferentiated, homogeneous, cut from the same cloth, consistent, unvarying;
corresponding, correspondent, commensurate, equivalent, matching, like, parallel, analogous, comparable, cognate, equal
informal like (two) peas in a pod, much of a muchness, (like) Tweedledum and Tweedledee

piece by piece

In gradual stages: I intend to approach this problem piece by piece
More example sentences
  • This report is another indication that depression is gradually being figured out piece by piece.
  • Despite these obstacles, unification is gradually proving possible, piece by piece.
  • So piece by piece, we're putting this puzzle together and we're getting closer to solving the problem.

piece of water

A small lake or pond.
Example sentences
  • The Corryvreckan is a treacherous piece of water but there are times when it resembles a flat-calm swimming pool.
  • It's a wonderful piece of water, I never tire of it.
  • Except for the large number of trailered boats heading skyward, there seemed to be no particular reason to expect a usable piece of water 6,700 feet above sea level - yet there it was.

piece of work

informal A person of a specified kind, especially an unpleasant one: he’s a nasty piece of work
More example sentences
  • They are nasty pieces of work, no doubt, but they are by no stretch of the imagination a threat to civilised society.
  • It was bad enough that families had to fend off the floodwater, but then they had to fend off those nasty pieces of work who sought to take advantage.
  • She may well tell us, for instance, that Mr Brown is a nasty piece of work, and that Mrs Green will one day be declared a saint.

say one's piece

Give one’s opinion or make a prepared statement: I’ve said my piece, it’s up to you
More example sentences
  • You said your piece, and nobody else's opinion seemed to matter.
  • And in the end, Kate says her piece, eventually sealing the contest.
  • The family filtered through into an antechamber and the friends passed by us all one at a time, saying their piece.

tear (or pull) someone/thing to pieces

Criticize someone or something harshly: theatre critics would tear the production to pieces
More example sentences
  • The Reds' semi-final exit at the hands of Bayer Leverkusen has led to yet another onslaught by those critics who relish pulling United to pieces.
  • Last week he told friends: ‘Over the 24 hours after hearing from Budd about the e-mails, I knew that my reputation would be pulled to pieces.’
  • If the left is supposed to be about internationalism and solidarity then the arguments of the anti-war left can be pulled to pieces in five minutes.
criticize, attack, censure, condemn, denigrate, find fault with, give a bad press to, pillory, maul, lambaste, flay, savage
informal knock, slam, pan, bash, take apart, crucify, hammer, lay into, roast, skewer
British informal slate, rubbish, slag off, monster
North American informal pummel, cut up
Australian/New Zealand informal bag
rare excoriate
criticize, attack, censure, condemn, denigrate, find fault with, pillory, maul, lambaste, flay, savage
informal knock, slam, pan, bash, take apart, crucify, hammer, lay into, roast, skewer
British informal slate, rubbish, monster, slag off
North American informal pummel, cut something up
Australian/New Zealand informal bag
archaic slash
rare excoriate


Middle English: from Old French piece (compare with medieval Latin pecia, petium), of obscure ultimate origin.

Words that rhyme with piece

anis, apiece, Berenice, caprice, cassis, cease, coulisse, crease, Dumfries, fils, fleece, geese, grease, Greece, kris, lease, Lucrece, MacNeice, Matisse, McAleese, Nice, niece, obese, peace, pelisse, police, Rees, Rhys, set piece, sublease, surcease, two-piece, underlease

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: piece

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.