[ pees ]
/ pis /


verb (used with object), pieced, piec·ing.

verb (used without object), pieced, piec·ing.

Chiefly North Midland U.S. to eat small portions of food between meals; snack.


Origin of piece

1175–1225; Middle English pece < Old French < Gaulish *pettia; akin to Breton pez piece, Welsh, Cornish peth thing

Related forms

mul·ti·piece, adjectiveun·pieced, adjective

Can be confused

peace piece

Synonym study

1. See part.

Usage note

The meanings “sexual intercourse” and “sexual partner” are both vulgar slang. When referring to a person, the term piece is usually used with disparaging intent and perceived as insulting.

Word story

English piece comes from Middle English pece, peece, piece, from Anglo-French peece, pees, peice and Old French pece, pice. Other Western Romance languages share variations of the same word: Provençal pessa, pesa, Spanish pieza, Catalan peça, Portuguese peça, Italian pezza. These Romance forms correspond to Medieval Latin pecia, petia “a bit, portion, coin” (compare two bits , a dated American slang term for "twenty-five cents"). The Medieval Latin form has no Latin origin but probably originates in a Gaulish noun pettiā, which explains why there is no cognate word in Romanian ( piece in Romanian is bucată ).
The American colloquialism wanna get a piece of me? (a challenge to a fight) dates back to 1953; piece in the derogatory sense “girl or woman (regarded as a sex object)” dates back to the 16th century; piece of ass to 1857; and (nasty) piece of work dates from the 18th century.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for go to pieces


/ (piːs) /


verb (tr)

See also piece out

Word Origin for piece

C13 pece, from Old French, of Gaulish origin; compare Breton pez piece, Welsh peth portion
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Idioms and Phrases with go to pieces (1 of 2)

go to pieces

Experience an emotional or mental breakdown, as in When she heard of his death she went to pieces. [Late 1800s] For a synonym, see fall apart, def. 2.

Idioms and Phrases with go to pieces (2 of 2)


In addition to the idioms beginning with piece

  • piece by piece
  • piece of ass
  • piece of cake
  • piece of change
  • piece of one's mind
  • piece of the action
  • piece together

also see:

  • all in one piece
  • conversation piece
  • go to pieces
  • museum piece
  • of a piece
  • pick apart (to pieces)
  • pick up the pieces
  • puff piece
  • say one's piece
  • think piece
  • thrill to pieces
  • to pieces
  • villain of the piece
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.