patch / pach/ • n. 1. a piece of cloth or other material used to mend or strengthen a torn or weak point. ∎ a pad or shield worn over a sightless or injured eye or an eye socket. ∎ a piece of cloth sewn onto clothing as a badge or distinguishing mark. ∎ Comput. a small piece of code inserted into a program to improve its functioning or to correct an error. ∎ an adhesive piece of drug-impregnated material worn on the skin so that the drug can be absorbed gradually over a period of time. ∎ (on an animal or bird) an area of hair or plumage different in color from that on most of the rest of the body. ∎ a part of something marked out from the rest by a particular characteristic: his hair was combed forward to hide a growing bald patch. ∎ a small area or amount of something: patches of bluebells in the grass. ∎ hist. a small disk of black silk attached to the face, esp. as worn by women in the 17th and 18th centuries for adornment. 2. a small piece of ground, esp. one used for gardening: they spent Sundays digging their vegetable patch. ∎ Brit., inf. an area for which someone is responsible or in which they operate: we didn't want any secret organizations on our patch. 3. inf. a period of time seen as a distinct unit with a characteristic quality: he may have been going through a bad patch. 4. a temporary electrical or telephone connection. ∎ a preset configuration or sound-data file in an electronic musical instrument, esp. a synthesizer. • v. [tr.] 1. mend or strengthen (fabric or an item of clothing) by putting a piece of material over a hole or weak point in it: her jeans were neatly patched. ∎ Med. place a patch over (a good eye) in order to encourage a lazy eye to work. ∎ Comput. correct, enhance, or modify (a routine or program) by inserting a patch. ∎ (usu. be patched) cover small areas of (a surface) with something different, causing it to appear variegated: the grass was patched with sandy stretches. ∎ (patch someone/something up) inf. treat someone's injuries or repair the damage to something, esp. hastily: they did their best to patch up the gaping wounds. ∎ (patch something together) construct something hastily from unsuitable components: lean-tos patched together from aluminum siding and planks | fig. they were trying to patch together an arrangement for cooperation. ∎ (patch something up) inf. restore peaceful or friendly relations after a quarrel or dispute: any ill feeling could be patched up with a phone call they sent him home to patch things up with his wife. 2. [tr.] connect by a temporary electrical, radio, or telephonic connection: Ralph had patched her through to the meeting by walkie-talkie. ∎ [intr.] become connected in this way: stay on the open line and we'll patch in on you. DERIVATIVES: patch·er n. ORIGIN: late Middle English: perhaps from a variant of Old French pieche, dialect variant of piece ‘piece.’
1. Informal A change to a program – usually to correct some error – that is introduced in a manner that emphasizes convenience and speed of change rather than security, and is intended to effect only a temporary repair. Even where a program is written in some high-level language, the patching might be carried out in machine-code terms on the compiled version of the program. Often during testing a series of minor errors will be corrected by patching in order to permit testing to continue without the delay of recompilation. Subsequently the corresponding changes will all be incorporated into the program source text at a single compilation.
2. (surface patch) A boundary piece of a surface. Patches are descriptions of three-dimensional shapes specified as bounded equations with criteria for joining other patches along their edges; for example, for smooth surfaces the patch equations must be differentiable at the edge. Complex surfaces are often broken down into patches. The whole surface is then described by the collection of patches. There is a wide variety of techniques for defining patches, for example Coons patches and Bézier patches. Patches are widely used in computer-aided design to describe curved surfaces and complex smooth geometries.
Hence vb. XV.
a collection or mass of floating ice floes; a patch or small amount of something; a scrap or remnant.
Examples : patch of earth, 1684; of ice floes, 1820; of philosophy, 1529; of poetry, 1633; of potatoes, 1894; of snow, 1807; of sunlight.