Interested in Language
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.
- 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!