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Piece, subst. 1) a part, a fragment: “eat a p. of my sword,” H4A V, 4, 156. “on the --s of the broken wand,” H6B I, 2, 28. “a p. of him,” Hml. I, 1, 19. this p. of your dead queen (i. e. her new-born child) Per. III, 1, 17. in --s and to --s == asunder, into fragments, in two: “spurn in --s posts of adamant,” H6A I, 4, 52. “break thou in --s,” V, 4, 92. R3 II, 2, 52. Rom. II, 5, 50. Lr. I, 2, 92. “dashed all to --s,” Tp. I, 2, 8. Wiv. II, 1, 22. LLL V, 2, 399. Shr. IV, 3, 129. All's IV, 3, 193. Wint. V, 2, 68. John IV, 3, 93. R2 II, 2, 139. H4B IV, 1, 18. H5 I, 2, 225. H6A IV, 7, 47. R3 I, 3, 260. IV, 4, 234. Cor. V, 6, 112. Cor. V, 6, 112 Caes. III, 3, 30. IV, 3, 82. Mcb. III, 2, 49. Lr. III, 2, 55. Oth. III, 3, 431. Cymb. III, 4, 55. IV, 1, 19. Per. IV, 2, 20. “torn a --s,” H8 V, 4, 80.
2) a part considered by itself and taken as a whole: “a p. of cheese,” Wiv. V, 5, 86. Wiv. V, 5, 86 a three piled p. (of velvet) Meas. I, 2, 33. “overmastered with a valiant p. of dust,” Ado II, 1, 64. “as pretty a p. of flesh as any,” IV, 2, 85. As III, 2, 68. Tw. I, 5, 30. “a p. of ice,” Shr. IV, 1, 14. “of beef,” IV, 3, 23. “the most peerless p. of earth,” Wint. V, 1, 94. cf. H5 V, 1, 14. R3 I, 3, 334. H8 III, 2, 280. IV, 1, 81. Rom. I, 1, 34. I, 5, 9. Caes. III, 1, 254. Lr. IV, 6, 90. Cymb. IV, 2, 127. V, 4, 140. V, 5, 437. Per. IV, 6, 153. Of the same p. == of the same kind: “just of the same p. is every flatterer's spirit,” Tim. III, 2, 71. p. by p. == one after another: “I'll murder all his wardrobe, p. by p.” H4A V, 3, 27.
Very often used in a periphrastical way: “a p. of skilful painting,” Lucr. 1366. “the most dangerous p. of lechery,” Ado III, 3, 180. “is this such a p. of study?” LLL I, 2, 53. “a very good p. of work,” Mids. I, 2, 14. Shr. I, 1, 258. “that p. of song,” Tw. II, 4, 2. “the prince is about a p. of iniquity,” Wint. IV, 4, 693. “it were a p. of honesty,” Wint. IV, 4, 693 “I knew by that p. of service,” H5 III, 2, 49. “there's not a p. of feather in our host,” IV, 3, 112. “a p. of knavery,” IV, 7, 3. cf. H6B I, 4, 47. V, 1, 155. R3 IV, 3, 5. H8 V, 2, 8. Tit. II, 3, 7. Tim. I, 1, 155. Tim. I, 1, 155 Caes. II, 1, 327. Mcb. II, 3, 134. Hml. II, 2, 315. III, 2, 51. III, 2, 51 Oth. IV, 1, 156. Ant. I, 2, 160. Cymb. II, 4, 72. Per. IV, 3, 2.
Applied to persons, sometimes in contempt: “thou fresh p. of excellent witchcraft,” Wint. IV, 4, 433. “drink up the lees and dregs of a flat tamed p.” Troil. IV, 1, 62. “give that changing p. to him,” Tit. I, 309. Oftener to denote a person of supreme excellence: “thy mother was a p. of virtue,” Tp. I, 2, 56. “the p. of virtue, which is set betwixt us as the cement of our love,” Ant. III, 2, 28. “thou art a p. of virtue,” Per. IV, 6, 118. “their transformations were never for a p. of beauty rarer,” Wint. IV, 4, 32. “O ruined p. of nature,” Lr. IV, 6, 137. “nature's p. 'gainst fancy,” Ant. V, 2, 99. “I have gone through for this p.” Per. IV, 2, 48. “when nature framed this p.” Per. IV, 2, 48 Difficult passage: “all princely graces, that mould up such a mighty p. as this is, shall still be doubled on her,” H8 V, 5, 27 (young Esizabeth cannot be meant by the mighty p., but what person else? King Henry VIII?).
3) a work of art, a painting or statue: “this well-painted p.” Lucr. 1443. “a p. many years in doing,” Wint. V, 2, 104. V, 3, 38. Tim. I, 1, 28. Tim. I, 1, 28 V, 1, 21. == a song: Troil. III, 1, 55.
4) a coin: “a p. of silver,” Tp. II, 2, 31. “some p. of money,” Meas. II, 1, 284. “a p. of gold,” H4A II, 4, 540. Hml. II, 2, 447. Oth. III, 1, 26. Cymb. V, 5, 183. “that for the poorest p. will bear the knave by the volume,” Cor. III, 3, 32. “a thousand --s,” Tim. III, 6, 23. Per. IV, 2, 56. IV, 6, 124. “take --s for the figure's sake,” Cymb. V, 4, 25.
5) a weapon, offensive or defensive: “a' would manage you his p. thus,” H4B III, 2, 301 (== musket). “a p. of ordnance,” H6A I, 4, 15. “bruised --s, go,” Ant. IV, 14, 42. cf. Murdering-piece.
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