Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Inchmeal

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is inchmeal. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Something done inchmeal is done gradually, or little by little.

// They worked on the study guide inchmeal up until the exam.

INCHMEAL in Context

“Dawn climbs inchmeal, the sky suffused with light so extravagant it seems stolen.” — Richard Bangs, HuffPost, 8 Aug. 2013

Did You Know?

“All the infections that the sun sucks up / From bogs, fens, flats, on Prosper fall, and make him / By inch-meal a disease!” So goes one of the curses the hated and hateful Caliban hurls in the direction of Prospero in Shakespeare’s The Tempest. The origin of inchmeal is simple; the inch half is the familiar measurement, and the meal half, which means “by a (specified) portion or measure at a time,” is the suffix we know from inchmeal’s much more common synonym piecemeal. Students of German may be interested to know that -meal is related to the modern German word mal, meaning “time,” which features in the common term manchmal, meaning “sometimes.”

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