chip (away) at (something)

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chip (away) at (something)

1. Literally, to break off fragments of something. We won't be able to move this huge rock until we chip at it and make it smaller.
2. By extension, to complete small, incremental portions of a task. I knew I wouldn't be able to write 50 pages in one night, so I've been chipping away at this paper for a few weeks.
See also: chip

chip (away) at something

to break off tiny pieces of something little by little. The mason chipped away at the bricks. He chipped at the block of marble gently.
See also: chip
References in periodicals archive ?
While homeowners indifferently enjoy the benefits of tax-deductible interest associated with the mortgage on their home, many do not realize the array of limitations and other landmines that Congress has subtly added to the tax code in order to chip away at this sacred cow.
Freshman shortstop Andrew Romine had helped Arizona State chip away at its deficit by hitting his first career home run, a two-out, solo shot in the sixth inning to make the score 7-5.
Nonetheless, materials scientists continue to chip away at fabrication problems that threaten to keep these remarkable ceramics from becoming useful in some potentially far-reaching items--such as superconducting electrical power lines -- featured on many a technological wish list.
Until then, the RIAA continues to chip away at piracy by unleashing fresh lawsuits.
Parks called it unwise to chip away at the reserve fund for nonemergency projects.
This time around, Hornaday is looking to chip away at Riggs' lead and make a run at his first Busch Series title.
Colgate didn't specify how Blue Cross' products had cut into sales, but industry experts said the practice of low-cost knockoffs trying to chip away at industry leaders was fairly common.
Secession opponents said a Valley municipality would be another layer of government and that it might chip away at protections for low-wage workers and recent immigrants.