de·​vice | \di-ˈvīs \

Definition of device 

1 : something devised or contrived: such as

a(1) : plan, procedure, technique a marketing device mnemonic devices

(2) : a scheme to deceive : stratagem, trick

b : something fanciful, elaborate, or intricate in design

c : something (such as a figure of speech) in a literary work designed to achieve a particular artistic effect irony and other literary devices a plot device

d archaic : masque, spectacle

e : a conventional stage practice or means (such as a stage whisper) used to achieve a particular dramatic effect

f : a piece of equipment or a mechanism designed to serve a special purpose or perform a special function smartphones and other electronic devices a hidden recording device

2 : desire, inclination left to my own devices

3 heraldry : an emblematic design used especially as a heraldic bearing (see bearing sense 4)

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Examples of device in a Sentence

The store sells TVs, VCRs, and other electronic devices. agreeing to dismantle all nuclear devices a useful mnemonic device for remembering the names of the planets The company's method of tracking expenses is just a device to make it seem more profitable.
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Recent Examples on the Web

So patients shouldn't conflate data gathered from an at-home device with receiving a real diagnosis from a doctor. Jordyn Hermani, Indianapolis Star, "Fishers teen discovers she has heart defect after wearing Fitbit," 14 July 2018 Then there’s the clause allowing Amazon to disable Alexa on Sonos devices with limited notice. Lauren Goode, WIRED, "Sonos's IPO Filing Shows Risks of Relying on Amazon and Apple," 6 July 2018 Hold on to your pores: There's a new kind of pimple-popping device in town. Macaela Mackenzie, Allure, "The "Skin Spatula" Device Is Going Viral as a Blackhead Treatment," 6 July 2018 The Revo is the first bidirectional belay device with a true auto-locking mechanism. Hayden Carpenter, Outside Online, "Testing Wild Country's Revo Belay Device," 2 July 2018 Amazon already integrates its Echo devices with its Prime subscription service, giving people an easy way to ask for the latest exclusive deals for Prime members, and play music from the Prime Music service. David Meyer, Fortune, "A Google Home in Every Kitchen: Morgan Stanley Tells Alphabet to Flood the U.S. With Devices to Fight Off Amazon," 29 June 2018 The researchers are working on a number of devices that integrate with the human body and relay messages from our organs. Alex Hogan, STAT, "WATCH: Our bodies talk to us — and these implantable devices can help listen," 29 June 2018 Council members are organizing public demonstrations of the devices. Jenna Carlesso, Courant Community, "Hartford Council Greenlights Purchase Of Body-Worn Cameras For Police," 29 June 2018 These devices can be very expensive and not something many police departments could afford. Allison Barrie, Fox News, "Innovative project harnesses Legos and smartphones in the fight against invisible, deadly weapons," 13 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'device.' 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 device

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for device

Middle English devis, devise, from Anglo-French, division, plan, from deviser to divide, regulate, tell — more at devise

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Statistics for device

Last Updated

6 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for device

The first known use of device was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for device



English Language Learners Definition of device

: an object, machine, or piece of equipment that has been made for some special purpose

: a weapon that explodes

: something that is done in order to achieve a particular effect


de·​vice | \di-ˈvīs \

Kids Definition of device

1 : a piece of equipment made for a special purpose electronic devices

2 : choice of what to do We were left to our own devices.

3 : a thing or act used to deceive : trick


de·​vice | \di-ˈvīs \

Medical Definition of device 

: a piece of equipment or a mechanism designed to serve a special purpose or perform a special function

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Comments on device

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


obstinately defiant of authority

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