chip away

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chip away

1. To break off fragments of something. We won't be able to move this huge rock until we chip away at it and make it smaller.
2. To come off of something in small pieces. The paint is so old that it has completely chipped away from this side of the house.
3. To complete small, incremental portions of a task. Try not to get too overwhelmed about cleaning the house and just chip away at it one room at a time.
See also: away, chip
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

chip something away (from something)

to break off tiny pieces of something. Many years of heavy use chipped the marble steps away. Someone chipped away little bits of the marble from that step.
See also: away, chip

chip away

[for something] to break off or break away in small chips. The edges of the marble step chipped away over the years. Some of the stone figures had chipped away so badly that we couldn't see what they were.
See also: away, chip
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

chip away

v.
1. To fall or break off in small pieces: The old paint chipped away from the frame when we opened the window.
2. To break off small pieces of something: Don't chip away the paint with a screwdriver. I chipped the enamel away with a scraper.
3. chip away at To reduce or make progress on something incrementally: We chipped away at the problem until it was solved. I chipped away at the dried cement on the tiles.
See also: away, chip
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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References in periodicals archive ?
It's something I never dreamed of as a child and obviously we'll keep chipping away and try our best to get to No.
And then it was chipping away trying to get top five."
This is something that my wife Tanya really wanted and I think we spent a good 120 hours chipping away at the plaster to expose the beautiful brick underneath.
Rendell, 24, said: "I will keep chipping away and have five games left.
FA TROPHY on the back-burner, Mick Tait has told his Blyth Spartans side to keep chipping away at Blue Square Bet North's so-called big-boys, writes STEVE BROWN.
The Spartans trailed by 17 points in the second half, but kept chipping away and won an overtime thriller, 59-58, as senior captain Dan Tessier drained a turnaround jumper with 6 seconds left in the extra period.
I keep chipping away at the stone to try to correct it but end up making a bigger and bigger mess until I run out of space.
9 (ANI): French President Nicolas Sarkozy has revealed how he actively participated in the historic fall of the Berlin Wall, by chipping away at the concrete slabs with a pick axe on November 9, 1989.
Are you and your husband constantly chipping away at each other?
And the stages are ever evolving, notes DeBoer, who says her committee at the University of Minnesota is constantly "chipping away at action items.
Again, if you squeeze in just a few minutes, you're chipping away at that mountain of work, making it much more manageable.
The Internet is chipping away at the party, for even 30,000 censors can't keep up with 120 million Chinese Netizens.
Minimizing component damage while chipping away flash requires at least an idea of where the wires and heater or thermocouple connections are located and how they are routed.
There are a lot of games to play but we've got to keep chipping away and climbing up the league.
Some fear the town of Odessa's move is part of a growing religious conservative movement sweeping the nation and chipping away at the wall of separation between church and state, but Elizabeth Ridenour, president of the National Council on Biblical Curriculum in Public Schools which creates the curriculum, says the popularity comes from word of mouth.