1. A thing considered as a unit or an element of a larger thing, quantity, or class; a portion: a piece of string.
2. A portion or part that has been separated from a whole: a piece of pie.
3. An object that is one member of a group or class: a piece of furniture.
4. An artistic, musical, or literary work or composition: "They are lively and well-plotted pieces, both in prose" (Tucker Brooke).
5. An instance; a specimen: a piece of sheer folly.
6. What one has to say about something; an opinion: speak one's piece.
7. A coin: a ten-cent piece.
a. One of the counters or figures used in playing various board games.
b. Any one of the chess figures other than a pawn.
9. Slang A firearm, especially a rifle.
10. Informal A given distance: "There was farm country down the road on the right a piece" (James Agee).
tr.v. pieced, piec·ing, piec·esIdioms:
1. To mend by adding pieces or a piece to: piece a dress.
2. To join or unite the pieces of: He pieced together the vase. She pieced together an account of what had gone on during the stormy meeting.
a piece of (one's) mind
Frank and severe criticism; censure.
of a piece
Belonging to the same class or kind.
piece by piece
In stages: took the clock apart piece by piece.
piece of ass Vulgar Slang
A person, especially a woman, considered sexually attractive.
piece of cake
Informal Something very easy to do.
piece of the action Slang
A share of an activity or of profits: "a piece of the action in a Florida land deal" (Shana Alexander).
piece of work
A remarkable person, achievement, or product: "He's a very tough piece of work" (Ted Koppel).
[Middle English pece, from Old French, from Vulgar Latin *pettia, probably of Celtic origin.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.