noun ap·pli·ance \ ə-ˈplī-ən(t)s \
|Updated on: 18 Jul 2018

Definition of appliance

plural appliances
1 : an act of applying
2 a : a piece of equipment for adapting a tool or machine to a special purpose : attachment
b : an instrument or device designed for a particular use or function
  • an orthodontic appliance
; specifically : a household or office device (such as a stove, fan, or refrigerator) operated by gas or electric current
c British : fire engine
d : an artificial part or mask that is worn as part of an actor's makeup or costume
  • … more grown-ups are shelling out for scary facial appliances—wounds, snouts and horns—to create the creepy characters they've dreamed up on their own.
  • —Dana Coffield
e computing : information appliance
  • A growing number of companies are coming up with ways [in 2000] to turn ordinary phones into Internet appliances.
  • —Sharon Cleary
3 obsolete : compliance

Examples of appliance in a Sentence

  1. All household appliances are now on sale.

  2. since the invention of the cork, all manner of appliances have been invented for the extraction of these sometimes troublesome stoppers

Recent Examples of appliance from the Web

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

First Known Use of appliance


in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Synonym Discussion of appliance

implement, tool, instrument, appliance, utensil mean a relatively simple device for performing work. implement may apply to anything necessary to perform a task.
    • crude stone implements
    • farm implements
tool suggests an implement adapted to facilitate a definite kind or stage of work and suggests the need of skill more strongly than implement.
    • a carpenter's tools
instrument suggests a device capable of delicate or precise work.
    • the dentist's instruments
appliance refers to a tool or instrument utilizing a power source and suggests portability or temporary attachment.
    • household appliances
utensil applies to a device used in domestic work or some routine unskilled activity.
    • kitchen utensils

APPLIANCE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of appliance for English Language Learners

  • : a machine (such as a stove, microwave, or dishwasher) that is powered by electricity and that is used in people's houses to perform a particular job

APPLIANCE Defined for Kids


noun ap·pli·ance \ ə-ˈplī-əns \

Definition of appliance for Students

: a piece of household equipment that performs a particular job

Medical Dictionary


noun ap·pli·ance \ ə-ˈplī-ən(t)s \

medical Definition of appliance

: an instrument or device designed for a particular use
  • prosthetic appliances
  • an orthodontic appliance used to move misaligned teeth into proper occlusion

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