ap·​pa·​ra·​tus | \ˌa-pə-ˈra-təs, -ˈrā- \
plural apparatuses or apparatus

Definition of apparatus 

1a : a set of materials or equipment designed for a particular use

b : a group of anatomical or cytological parts functioning together mitotic apparatus

c : an instrument or appliance designed for a specific operation an apparatus for measuring vision

2 : the functional processes by means of which a systematized activity is carried out the apparatus of society : such as

a : the machinery of government

b : the organization of a political party or an underground movement

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of apparatus in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Pressure will emerge from norm-centric circles to, ironically, ratify Trump’s misdeeds by refusing to even mount an attempt to clean house at the FBI, ICE, CBP, and other elements of the federal law enforcement apparatus. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "Donald Trump, the resistance, and the limits of normcore politics," 3 July 2018 This means sending the apparatus to space, so this Sunday a rocket traveling to the International Space Station will bring the Cold Atom Laboratory along for the ride. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "NASA Is Finally Sending the Coldest Place on Earth to Space," 22 May 2018 An April 26 presentation to the council shows $85 million to $90 million needed to build two new fire stations and purchase fire apparatus and build a police substation in northeast Mesa. Lily Altavena, azcentral, "Mesa to vote on public-safety tax hike, 1st of several money requests that may hit ballot," 9 May 2018 Some show waterfront cafés and recreational amenities like slides or climbing apparatuses. John Gallagher, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit, come get a look at the potential future of the west riverfront," 8 Feb. 2018 The Tide moved on to the balance beam and featured high scores from seniors Lexi Garber and Guerrero; Garber scored a 9.9 and Guerrero closed out the apparatus with a 9.925. Cheryl Wray,, "Tide gymnastics gets big win over No. 8 Arkansas," 3 Feb. 2018 As Dr Rajendran’s experiments are carefully shielded, only such particles, with their extraordinarily weak interactions with normal matter, would be expected to enter the apparatus and be detected. The Economist, "Particle physicsFundamental physics is frustrating physicists," 13 Jan. 2018 For Mugisha Muntu, who led the army for a decade, the failings of the security apparatus illustrate the president’s two weaknesses: his desire to hang on to power and his tendency to subvert institutions. The Economist, "Uganda’s politicised police force is not reducing crime," 5 July 2018 In practice, however, the Machine both assaults and abets this idea of the apparatus as a break—a relief from life and labor. Michelle Weber, Longreads, "You’ll Dream What We Tell You To Dream and You’ll Like It," 5 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'apparatus.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of apparatus

circa 1628, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for apparatus

borrowed from Latin apparātus "act of preparing, display, trappings, equipment," from apparāre "to make ready, make preparations for" (from ad- ad- + parāre "to supply, provide, make ready") + -tus, suffix of verbal nouns — more at pare

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about apparatus

Statistics for apparatus

Last Updated

11 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for apparatus

The first known use of apparatus was circa 1628

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for apparatus



English Language Learners Definition of apparatus

: a tool or piece of equipment used for specific activities

: the organization or system used for doing or operating something


ap·​pa·​ra·​tus | \ˌa-pə-ˈra-təs, -ˈrā-\
plural apparatuses or apparatus

Kids Definition of apparatus

: the equipment or material for a particular use or job gymnasium apparatus laboratory apparatus


ap·​pa·​ra·​tus | \ˌap-ə-ˈrat-əs, -ˈrāt- \
plural apparatuses or apparatus

Medical Definition of apparatus 

: a group of anatomical and cytological parts having a common function the respiratory apparatus — see golgi apparatus

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on apparatus

What made you want to look up apparatus? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


playful or foolish behavior

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Autumn Words of the Day 2018

  • a-top-down-image-of-road-through-an-autumn-forest
  • Which is a synonym of fugacious?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!