ap·​pli·​ance | \ə-ˈplī-ən(t)s \
plural appliances

Definition of appliance 

1 : an act of applying

2a : 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

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Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of appliance in a Sentence

All household appliances are now on sale. since the invention of the cork, all manner of appliances have been invented for the extraction of these sometimes troublesome stoppers

Recent Examples on the Web

In a likely ripple effect, retail sales of home appliances and furniture slowed in October. WSJ, "China Bet Its Economic Future on Consumers, and They Aren’t Spending Enough," 14 Nov. 2018 Common sources of carbon monoxide gas include heaters, fireplaces, furnaces, and many types of appliances and cooking devices, including charcoal grills or barbecues. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "SAFETY ALERT: Your Carbon Monoxide Alarm Probably Just Expired This Year," 21 Sep. 2018 And while there's nothing like the blissful ease of unboxing takeout, these days there are a plethora of cutting-edge appliances designed to make life easy when cooking your own meals. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "A Beginner's Guide to Plant-Based Eating With Deliciously Ella," 15 Sep. 2018 Such devices could be everything from household appliances like refrigerators and air conditioners to warehouse delivery systems, smart traffic signs and aerial drones. Matthew Pennington, The Seattle Times, "US panel warns against government purchase of Chinese tech," 14 Nov. 2018 On an interim basis, Morrison was replaced by Keith McLoughlin, the former CEO of appliance maker Electrolux, which has its North American headquarters in Charlotte. Katherine Peralta, charlotteobserver, "Shares of Charlotte snack maker's parent soar after reports of a potential sale," 25 June 2018 The Wall Street Journal reported that Sears is considering selling off its Kenmore appliance brand, as well as other units of its business. Megan Friedman, Good Housekeeping, "Sears and Kmart Are Closing 63 More Stores Across the Country," 31 May 2018 Now it's hired a second set of advisers to re-shop its Kenmore appliance brand along with some home-services businesses. The Washington Post,, "Sears, Kmart to close 72 more stores amid revenue slump," 31 May 2018 Provisions will also encourage homebuilders to move away from natural gas-burning appliances and include things like electric ovens and water heaters. Megan Geuss, Ars Technica, "California approves measure to require solar on new homes after 2020," 9 May 2018

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.

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First Known Use of appliance

1555, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for appliance

Last Updated

5 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for appliance

The first known use of appliance was in 1555

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More Definitions for appliance



English Language Learners Definition of appliance

: 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


ap·​pli·​ance | \ə-ˈplī-əns \

Kids Definition of appliance

: a piece of household equipment that performs a particular job


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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Comments on appliance

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


to enclose within walls

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