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(1)   Any clever maneuver
"He would stoop to any device to win a point"
"It was a great sales gimmick"
"A cheap promotions gimmick for greedy businessmen"
(2)   An instrumentality invented for a particular purpose
"The device is small enough to wear on your wrist"
"A device intended to conserve water"
(3)   An emblematic design (especially in heraldry)
"He was recognized by the device on his shield"
(4)   Any ornamental pattern or design (as in embroidery)
(5)   Something in an artistic work designed to achieve a particular effect


, from , past participle of .


  1. Any piece of equipment made for a particular purpose, especially a mechanical or electrical one.
    There are a number of household devices in a kitchen such as a dishwasher, a garbage disposal, or an electric can opener.
    • 1949. Geneva Convention on Road Traffic Chapter VI. Provisions Applicable to Cycles in International Traffic
      Every cycle shall be equipped with: ... (b) an audible warning device consisting of a bell ...
  2. A project or scheme, often designed to deceive; a stratagem; an artifice.
    • His device is against Babylon, to destroy it.
    • 1827 Hallam, Henry, The English Constitution, Harper
      Their recent device of demanding benevolences.
    • He disappointeth the devices of the crafty, so that their hands cannot perform their enterprise.
  3. A technique that an author or speaker uses to evoke an emotional response in the audience; a rhetorical device.
  4. A motto, emblem, or other mark used to distinguish the bearer from others. A device differs from a badge or cognizance primarily because as it is a personal distinction, and not a badge borne by members of the same house successively.
    • 1736. O'Callaghan, Edmund Bailey. The Documentary History of the State of New York Chapter I, Article III: Enumeration of the Indian Tribes.
      The devices of these savages are the serpent, the Deer, and the Small Acorn.
  5. An image used in whole or in part as a trademark or service mark.
  6. An image or logo denoting official or proprietary authority or provenience.
    • 1943 United States Post Office Department. A Description of United States Postage Stamps / Issued by the Post Office Department from July 1, 1847, to April 1, 1945 [sic], USGPO, Washington, p1:
      Prior to the issuance of the first stamps, letters accepted by postmasters for dispatch were marked "Paid" by means of pen and ink or hand stamps of various designs. [...] To facilitate the handling of mail matter, some postmasters provided special stamps or devices for use on letters as evidence of the prepayment of postage.
  7. A spectacle or show.
  8. Opinion; decision.
  9. Power of devising; invention; contrivance.
    • 1824. Landor, Walter Savage "King Henry IV and Sir Arnold Savage" from Imaginary Conversations of Literary Men and Statesmen, page 44
      Moreover I must have instruments of mine own device, weighty, and exceeding costly


appliance, equipment, gadget, design, contrivance scheme, project, stratagem, artifice invention, contrivance