Old King Cole Was A Merry Old Soul
Picking & Grinning In The Kitchen - 6 Years Later - Rock of Ages

A Blind Pig Reader Has A Question

Using the word piece for snacking

A few months ago I received the following question from Blind Pig reader Eldonna Ashley. See if you can help her out.


1.  I want to ask a question about the word piece. It might have come from piecemeal.

In our family, and I think the families of my classmates, the word piece was used to mean eat or snack. "Don't you be piecin' before supper." Or "We had such a big Sunday dinner that we will just piece for supper." 

2. Come to think of it, dinner was always at noon, supper was the evening meal. 

3.  And that reminds me that "evening" was the time between dinner and supper, AKA afternoon now.

Just some things I am wondering about. You may remember that I am trying to teach my heritage, especially the words and language, to my grandchildren.

There is a pocket of about six counties in southern Ohio that are linked to Appalachia. I was lucky enough to be born and grown in one of them.

Thanks for reading my post.

Eldonna Ashley


Like Eldonna's family we always had dinner during the middle of the day and supper after everyone was home from work and school-still do. And ditto for the evening description. However I've never heard piece used in the manner Eldonna describes-have you?


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I am a Mainer and just stumbled upon your web-site. Very interesting and I spend a lot of time reading and learning. The recipes for fresh garden vegetables are just what I needed! Tried the raw beet pickles today and the cucumber salad. How do I get a history of the title: Blind Pig and the Acorn? Thanks!

I'm familiar with 'piece' as a snack, as well as used to describe a distance ('fer piece'). Grew up with both here in Oklahoma, and use them myself.

I'd never really thought about piece always being used describing an amount of serving for pizza, pie, cornbread, etc.---but use it all the time!
'Piece of work' for reference about a person is common, too.

Besides the factory explanation for 'piece work'--I've heard it used for someone who does sewing jobs from their home for folks.

Intrigued with the variety of explanations of 'evening'---it's the time after work (5 or 6 p.m) for us---till dark and that's then 'night.'

Love reading these types of posts!

My family did use the word piecing exactly in that way, as in "I've been piecing on this cake all afternoon and I'm not hungry now". It meant snacking or nibbling on something. I grew up in southeastern Ohio.

In the Navy, the enlisted men's mess menu called for Braekfast, Dinner and Supper while the officer's Wardroom menu called for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

I remember my grandmother telling a neighbor that there was a blackberry patch "just over the hill, a piece."

I don't think I've heard the word "piece" used to mean a snack or snacking.
I grew up in New England, and we had supper as the evening meal. Don't recall actually talking about "evening" though, that time of day was just called "after supper." The noon meal was lunch except on Sunday, and then it was dinner! We only ate dinner on Sundays, I now realize.

Our piece was used as a noun-a small amount.--- I'll have just a piece of collards and biscuit.
and a mess was a lot of something--- He ate the whole mess of collards and biscuits.
Obviously, a mess can be delicious!

My aunt sent me a "little piece" of money when my son was born. Evening is after dinner which is in the middle of the day. It lasted till dark. We do get a piece of pie & in thinking about it we get a piece of several round foods--pizza & cake & cornbread but also a piece of loaf bread which isn't.

The word "Piece" to me means distance. "We turned off the road
and drove beside the river a fer

Dinner and supper was at 12 and 5
of the evening. I got off the
school bus at 4 and was usually
starving for supper...Ken

Not at home but I've heard what Eldonna calls piecing, called grazing.

I can hear my Grandmother say, "Please stay and eat, we'll piece something together!" By the time the words were out of her mouth and Mom or Dad could decide, she would already have pulled this and that out of the refrigerator and was peeling potatoes. Piecing a meal together like one of her famous quilts and it was always delicious.
We usually stayed until late evening before 8:00 PM, unless it was raining and that terrible mountain fog through the mountains proved hazardous.
Thanks Tipper,
I never get a slice, always a piece. Jim, I usually have two pieces of cornbread with beans or chili.


This piece thing is a real puzzler.

My mother used to piece a quilt. She made "squares" from smaller, sometimes irregularly, shaped scraps of cloth. Maybe that is what Eldonna's people are doing with their meal. It's leftovers. There might not be enough of everything for everyone to get some. But there is still plenty to eat. Those are the fun meals. When you fit over who gits what!!

We never ate a meal at our home. Meal was what you made cornbread out of. When you eat was breakfast, dinner and supper. We had lunch too but it had to be "brought" or "packed" in a paper bag and had to be away from home. We never had noon. We had "around dinnertime." Next came evening, then "around supper" or "around dark" depending on the season.


Though I have never heard 'piece' used as described here, this discussion does remind me of a very common term in my family: 'Let's have us a bite to eat.'I'm also reminded of another use of piece, i.e., 'Oh, he lives up the road a piece'. Dinner,supper, and evening were similar, also.

Eldonna - - Wondering if parts of Indiana use the terminology as well. Two of my family branches came from what is now West Virginia through Ohio and Indiana before heading to Kansas, then Texas. (My parents were still corresponding with these folks as recently as 10 years ago.) Through these branches everything you've described is as my family uses it except "evening". Don's description of evening is how my family uses the term which seems to have a connection with John's reference to the U.K.

A couple of more thoughts about "piece" - when quilting, we refer to the putting together of fabric shapes as "piecing" the quilt top. Referring to something as a "piece of cake" was something easy because making a common cake was one of the quickest and easiest things to put together for a dessert. As for calling someone a "piece of work" - well, that person does things so differently or strangely that they are considered to be "not all there". On the other hand, when referring to a child or a young person, it could also mean "unfinished" but with the potential for high quality as "that child is a fine piece of work."

As a "final" note on the subject - if the mid-day meal is delayed, we often call it "lupper" and decide to "piece" for the evening meal. I always thought my kids originated that term in the late 70s/early 80s (a bit presumptious of me, wasn't it ;-) ) but have heard others using it since then. They had heard and understood the term "brunch" and decided we needed a term for mid-afternoon meals which occurred on some of our all too often over-scheduled days. A lot of "piecin'" went on those days too!!

The only way we used piece in reference to food was to describe a chunk of something. Mom used to put a piece of cornbread in Daddy's dinner box for him to crumble in his pint jar of milk. Supper was on the table when daddy came home from working in the coal mines. We also called the time after supper "night" even if it was only 5 or 6 o'clock.

I remember my Grandmother using the word fress. There will be no fressing before supper. If you fress you will not be able to eat your supper.
It meant snacking.

My mother used to use "piece" as a verb exactly as Eldonna describes, that is to snack or have a light meal. She grew up in Kansas, was of German-Scottish ancestry. I haven't heard the term used that way since she passed on a number of years ago. The "dinner and supper" terms were just as the rest of you use, and so do we, although our daughter thinks it's mighty old fashioned of us.

Kimberly-now you've jogged my brain! Going to get a piece to eat is something I've heard-and that usage is the same as Eldonna is describing : )


Blind Pig The Acorn
Celebrating and Preserving the
Culture of Appalachia

On Saturday, August 23, 2014 6:15 AM,

Eldonna & Tipper: In all our backwoods way of talking I never heard that way of expressing 'piece' in that manner. But I certainly can relate to those 'mountain people' who settled in Ohio. My daddy tried to get mama to leave the cove and MOVE ALL THE CHILDREN TO CANTON,OHIO.But thank goodness she held on to her roots and we all made it through those rough years!

Eva Nell

Dinner for Lunch and Supper for Dinner are pretty common all over the south, but not so much in the north. Never heard the other on, either in north or south, so "piece" must be a localized saying. Working on a line in a factory turning out "pieces" is also called "piece work".

In the UK 'piece' was occasionally used to mean a snack. In the old folk song 'We're All Jolly Fellows That Follow The Plough' the line occurs "With a piece in our pockets to the fields we do go" for example. Dinner also always meant a mid day meal, tea was eaten some time between 4 and 6, with supper eaten just before bed. Evening meant the time between tea and supper. But things are different in other parts of the country.

Piece - a part of something
piecemeal - doing something part by part; putting something together piece by piece
A meal is something to eat/snack that might end for a short time
Of course, there are more meanings and without looking in a dictionary, my thoughts are as I saw them growing up. Interesting thought - sure hope someone has a much better Applachian meaning. I'm just a city girl.

Tipper--I actually think you have, unknowingly, used piece in this context; namely, "I think I'll have me a piece of pie." I'll bet that's the way you, and most of your readers, put it, as opposed to "a slice of pie." Similar verbiage holds true for a piece of cornbread.

As for dinner and supper, that's the way I've always known them, but to me evening meant post-supper time.

Jim Casada

In the North Georgia section of Appalachia, we did not use piece to refer to a snack or a "piece of the meal" as Ms. Eldonna Ashley seemed to do in the Appalachian area of Ohio. However, my dictionary gives the history of "piecemeal" as from the 14th to the 16th century, meaning "in pieces," "in fragments," or gradually. We did, however, use "piece" to qualify other actions, as "I'll give you a piece of my mind," meaning you'll really hear from me, my opinion, on this subject. Or "That's a 'piece-of-cake," meaning easily done. We'd also describe a task as a "piece of work," meaning it would be done in phases or increments. Or a person could be described as "a piece of work," meaning he or she might be eccentric or a "bit different." Bur we had no reference, to my knowledge, that piecemeal had to do with a portion of or an advance part of a meal.

Dinner was always noon and supper after work. I have never herd piece used that way. We always used the word piece when referring to a small amount of food. I can see the connection to call a snack a piece. At our house, evening always started when Daddy got home from work. Barbara

I don't recall ever hearing piece used in this manner either. We always called the midday meal lunch and the evening mean supper. Dinner was a fancy word for supper.
There is a small nagging in the very back of my brain of another use for the word piece but I can't raise it at the moment. If it surfaces, I'll leave another comment.

Never heard piece used like this.

I agree with both of you on dinner. It was and is at noon (in the past tense at our house, it was at about 12:03, since it took Daddy about three minutes to drive from the plant to the house to eat. Mama always had food ready when he got to the house, since he had to be back at work by 12:30.

As to evening - my own view was that it was sometime from around mid-afternoon until full dark. The centerpiece of evening wasn't in the middle of that period, however. It was in the gloaming, that part of the day equaled in splendor only by its morning counterpart.

I have heard all of that. Evening was always between dinner and supper for us too and the time after supper was night.

Now that I think about it, I tdo believe I remember grandma saying that she was going to get a piece to eat. I have never used it though.

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