Is this a new way to use the word "piece"?

I have encountered this with seemingly increasing frequency over the past year or two. However I’m aware of the recency illusion, so I’m wondering if that’s what’s happening here.

An example of what I’m talking about would be the following. Someone says “My one worry is on the financial piece, where it says we’re going to raise half a million in six months.” But I myself would not have used the word “piece” in that context–indeed the whole construction “on the financial piece” sounds “off” to my ear. Instead I would have said something like “My one worry is what it says here in the section on finances about how we’re going to raise half a million in six months” or anyway some phrasing to that effect.

So I’ve been hearing “piece” used like this a lot lately. If I’m involved in a project with others where everyone’s got different things they’re responsible for, the various responsibilities are referred to as "piece"s. I’d never say that myself, and I feel like I never heard it used that way before maybe a year and a half to two years ago.

Is this something that’s been going on forever and I just never noticed? Or is this a genuninely new or newly-popularizing construction?

Another example: Items on a meeting agenda being referred to as “pieces.”

“Okay, now on to the nomination piece.”

“Next let’s go to the graduation piece.”



Sounds normal to me. There’s a bunch of things in a project, each of which is a piece of the whole.

Language is dynamic - constantly evolving - probably faster than ever now that we have near instant world-wide communication.

I suspect this particular variant comes from ‘the pieces of the puzzle’.
English today reminds me of learning a new language - you do your best with what limited vocabulary you have.

Totally normal to me too. OP: Are you a native English speaker?

Nothing in the OP sounded odd or new to me in the use of “piece.”

Sounds odd to me, too, but I don’t work with teams on projects. For me, if you said “the financial piece” without any further context, “piece” to me would mean some kind of news segment or story.

I don’t have my tools available to search, but I’m pretty certain that it’s a newspaper term dating back to circa 1930’s. It isn’t surprising that it’s being used in other areas by now.

Musical numbers are divided into in pieces.

To answer someone’s question: I am a native speaker.

The usages I’m talking about, I’d usually use “part” or “section” instead.

To me it kind of feels like calling a chapter in a book a “piece” of the book. That’s not right is it? A chapter isn’t a piece, it’s a part. Or a section. Not a “piece”! (Is that, too, a strange fact about me rather than a facet of the language?)

I guess for me “piece” is specifically a term about concrete physical parts. For non-physical or abstract things, if I want to talk about them as having “segments” of some kind, for whatever reason I go to “part” or “section.” “Piece” just doesn’t sound right to me.

I wonder if this is purely ideosyncratic.

Since I posted the OP, I heard it again, this time for what I myself would have labeled a “topic,” not a “piece!”

Can’t remember the exact example though.

No, it isn’t new. I made the transition from academia to business in the late 1990s, and started to hear the word “piece” used in this context shortly thereafter. It seemed odd at the time, but I got used to it.

Unlike, say, “reach out to”, which makes me want to slap the guy.

An ngrams search is interesting, although not solid evidence.

If you go in and check, I’d say that many of the hits in 1990-2000 use financial piece in roughly the same sense. Roughly, because written sentences and verbal sentences tend to be slightly off from one another.

I didn’t do a thorough check of older uses, but looking at the hits indicates that the meaning comes from “piece of the action.” There is a hit specifically for “financial piece of the action” in addition to the phrase being used close to financial.

There are a number of other uses, though. Financial piece also is used for an article (piece) on the finance world, and for a piece of a business in the sense of a piece of a cake.

As a common phrase with lots of antecedents, a “something” piece seems like a natural extension. It doesn’t sound odd to me, perhaps a bit business-speaky, but business generates huge numbers of buzzwords all the time.

That’s a long-standing usage. I think it started in journalism where an article in a newspaper would be called a piece (presumably meaning it was a piece of that issue as a whole). I’m pretty sure it was in use back in the seventies.

“Piece of the pie”. Project pie. I want the financial piece. It’s always the biggest piece.

I did not understand your example at all until you gave your own paraphrase. However, my main problem was not with the word “piece” instead of “section” (“piece” seems a bit vague there, but not wrong), it was with “on” instead of “with”. That made a nonsense of it.

“On” is the word that was used by the person I was thinking of when I typed out the example, but for the sake of the example it might have been good for me ot change it to “with.”

The proper reading of the original sentence is “my one worry is the difficulty in raising the money; that aspect of the overall project might fail in that time line.” Raising money is not a “section on finance” and wouldn’t be called the “finance section”. It is not a reference to a section of the formal written business plan; it’s in reference to the concept of raising the needed money. That’s a piece of the whole, the financial piece.

Though I do hear “piece” used the way you just described, Exapno, (and this use, to be clear, also sounds “off” to me,) I should clarify that in the instance I was thinking of when typing up the example in my OP, the speaker was referring to part of a document outlining a strategic plan.

For whatever reason, in my ideolect it has turned out that “piece” is used (AFAICT) only about concrete physical entities. For me, it is strange to talk about a “piece” of a project. A project has parts, not pieces. Same for books and other documents (considered as abstract texts as opposed to actual conglomerations of glue and paper). Turns out this is just me! I’m mildly surprised.