Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

chip away - definition and synonyms

What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.

Thesaurus diagram

The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

phrasal verb [intransitive/transitive]
Word Forms
present tense
I/you/we/theychip away
he/she/itchips away
present participlechipping away
past tensechipped away
past participlechipped away
  1. 1
    to gradually make something weaker, smaller, or less effective

    The company’s dominance of the market is gradually being chipped away.

    chip away at:

    Her comments were beginning to chip away at his self-confidence.

  2. 2
    to remove small pieces from something hard by hitting it with a tool

    Use a hammer to chip away the edge.

    chip away at:

    She was chipping away at the ground with a trowel.

    Synonyms and related words
See also main entry: chip


a lifestyle focussing on simple pleasures such as comfort and cosiness in the home, and spending time with friends and family

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary


a form of location that involves the underwater detonation of a bomb which causes sound waves that are picked up by ships

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog
Macmillan learn live love play