What does the idiom "take things to pieces" mean?

Are you using the idiom take things to pieces but not sure about its meaning? Using idioms, which are important elements of spoken and written language, in the right place strengthens your language skills. Examine the meaning of the take things to pieces idiom and the situations in which it is used.

Meaning of "take things to pieces"


The expression 'take things to pieces' is a metaphor for an intense and thorough examination of an issue, problem, or idea. It implies that every aspect or component of the topic will be carefully scrutinized and analyzed. The idea behind the phrase is that someone is going to break the concept down into its core components and explore each one of them individually in order to gain a deeper understanding of the overall subject.


The phrase 'take things to pieces' can be traced back to the 16th century, when it was first used as a metaphor for weaponizing a specific argument or point of view. The concept was adopted by the English language and has since become a more general phrase for any kind of intensive examination of an idea. By the 18th century, the phrase had become more commonly used in everyday language.


The phrase 'take things to pieces' is often used as a verb, meaning to analyze something deeply or to break something down into its detailed or core components. It is typically used when referring to a complex idea or concept, as it implies a thorough examination or breakdown of its components. In some cases, it may also imply breaking something down into its physical components, as in taking apart a machine or device.

Example Sentences

  • The engineer took the engine to pieces in order to diagnose the problem.
  • The professor took the student's argument to pieces in order to find out what was wrong with it.
  • We need to take this issue to pieces if we want to understand it properly.

The meanings of the words in the "take things to pieces" idiom

Idioms with similar meanings in different languages

"Barking up the wrong tree" is an English idiom that means to pursue a mistaken or misguided course of action. In German, the similar idiom is "Auf dem Holzweg sein," which translates to "To be on the wrong track." This idiom emphasizes the idea that when you are pursuing the wrong course of action, you are not going to achieve your desired outcome.


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