To chisel away
As it happens, Feldman’s accidental study provides a window onto a form of cheating
that has long stymied academics: white-collar crime. (Yes, shorting the bagel man is
white-collar crime, writ however small.) It might seem ludicrous to address as large and
intractable a problem as white-collar crime through the life of a bagel man. But often a
small and simple question can help chisel away at the biggest problems.
This expression is not to be found in the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.
chisel 2 verb ( past tense and past participle chiselled , present participle chiselling British English , chiseled , chiseling American English ) [ transitive ]
to use a chisel to cut wood or stone into a particular shape chisel something into/from/in etc something Martin chiselled a hole in the door for the new lock.
I'm curious, is this a common expression? I do understand from context what it means: solving small problems makes solving harder problems easier.
Re: To chisel away
If you "chisel away" at something, you chip at it gradually. You keep doing or saying something which slowly slowly changes someone's feelings or opinions or desires about something.
Originally Posted by Chicken Sandwich
- I used to think I was a very good actress but over the years the critics have chiselled away at my confidence by being very rude about my performances.
- My husband wants to go America for our summer holiday. I want to go to Australia. I'm gradually chiselling away at him. He'll give in eventually!
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