The Difference between 'Devise' and 'Device'

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What to Know

Devise is a verb meaning "to invent or plan." Device is a noun referring to a technique, method, tool, or small machine or gadget.

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A device may often aid in the act of devising.

The words devise and device share the same root—the Latin dividere ("to divide")—but have different functions in English. We'll help you craft a way to remember them, but the simple difference is this: devise is a verb and device is a noun.

Using 'Devise'

To devise something means to plan it out in the mind. It shares a synonym with invent.

Pet owners come to me every day with concerns about repetitive behaviors and unusual noises made by their animals, and I must employ my experience and diagnostic acumen to determine the cause and devise a solution. Some of these cases can present challenging mysteries, to be sure, since unusual behaviors can mean many different things.
— Stephanie Daverio, The Williamsport Sun-Gazette, 29 Sept. 2019

The author, Maj. George A. Soper, was an American civil and sanitation engineer who, among other accomplishments, had devised a plan for ventilating New York’s subway system.
— Alan Burdick, The New York Times, 16 Mar. 2021

Using 'Device'

The noun device has several meanings. It can refer to a technique, method, or tool used to achieve something (such as to convey a message):

By the mid-1920s, a DuPont paint formulation helped expand the palette, and color was used as a marketing device; General Motors’ Oakland Motor Car division advertised the True Blue Six model after its bright color in 1924. Even Ford Motor caved in when it needed a marketing boost in 1925. “Colors then returned for the T’s final two model years in an effort to stimulate slumping sales,” Mr. Anderson said.
— Roy Furchgott, The New York Times, 25 Mar. 2021

She lives in Sydney, where heat waves, wildfires, flooding, and other climate-change-fueled natural disasters are a constant threat. Still, she watches coastal residents buy more insurance on their at-risk homes instead of moving; she imagines “sharks butting up against the windowpanes” one day. In a particularly on-the-nose plot device, she gets a job as an emergency-dispatch operator and finds herself feeling more paranoid and helpless as she spends her days hoping to assist people in crisis before it’s too late.
— Erin Berger, Outside, 3 Mar. 2021

In modern use, device might be best known as a word for a small machine or gadget, and particularly for an electronic gadget such as a smartphone:

Another option is capturing the bugs with a “circle trap” – a device that can be made at home using window screening, milk-jug tops, a stick, and a plastic bag.
— George Weigel,, 25 June 2021

By doing so, these products will become part of a sort of mesh network, with your Echo or Ring device acting as a middleman between your router and, say, those smart lights in the backyard that sit right at the edge of Wi-Fi range.
— Ry Crist, CNET, 9 June 2021

If you are left to your own devices, you are in a position to do what you want or are able to do without being controlled or helped by anyone else.

"We were fortunate enough to partner with Nikon to do what would eventually become the travel show, Around the World. They basically left us to our own devices to go out and do what we want, and come back with 10 episodes and a bunch of shorts … it was a real dream come true that they trusted us to go out and do that to come back with a series we put on Youtube."
— Taylor Jackson, quoted on Uproxx, 27 May 2021

We would never leave you without help, however.