from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A device consisting of fixed and moving parts that modifies mechanical energy and transmits it in a more useful form.
  • noun A system or device for doing work, as an automobile or jackhammer, together with its power source and auxiliary equipment.
  • noun A system or device, such as a computer, that performs or assists in the performance of a human task.
  • noun An intricate natural system or organism, such as the human body.
  • noun A person who acts in a rigid, mechanical, or unconscious manner.
  • noun An organized group of people whose members are or appear to be under the control of one or more leaders.
  • noun A device used to produce a stage effect, especially a mechanical means of lowering an actor onto the stage.
  • noun A literary device used to produce an effect, especially the introduction of a supernatural being to resolve a plot.
  • noun An answering machine.
  • adjective Of, relating to, or felt to resemble a machine.
  • intransitive verb To cut, shape, or finish by machine.
  • intransitive verb To be cut, shaped, or finished by machine.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun An engine; an instrument of force.
  • noun In mech., in general, any instrument for the conversion of motion.
  • noun A vehicle or conveyance, such as a coach, cab, gig, tricycle, bicycle, etc.
  • noun A fire-engine.
  • noun In the ancient theater, one of a number of contrivances in use for indicating a change of scene, as a rotating prism with different conventional scenery painted on its three sides, or a device for expressing a descent to the infernal regions, as the “Charonian steps,” for representing the passage of a god through the air across the stage (whence the dictum deus ex machina, applied to the mock supernatural or providential), etc. Such machines were very numerous in the fully developed Greek theater, and were copied in the Roman.
  • noun A literary contrivance for the working out of a plot; a supernatural agency, or artificial action, introduced into a poem or tale; machinery.
  • noun Any organization by which power not mechanical is applied and made effective; the whole complex system by which any organization or institution is carried on: as, the vital machine; the machine of government.
  • noun A strict organization of the working members of a political party, which enables its managers, through the distribution of offices, careful local supervision, and systematic correspondence, to maintain control of conventions and elections, and to secure a predominating in-fluence in the party for them-selves and their associates for their own ends; also, the body of managers of such an organization.
  • noun See the adjectives.
  • To contrive. Palsgrave.
  • To apply machinery to; form or effect by the aid of machinery; especially, to print or sew by means of a machine.
  • To furnish with the machinery of a plot.
  • To be employed upon or in machinery.
  • To act as or in the machinery of a drama; serve as the machine or effective agency in a literary plot.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To subject to the action of machinery; to make, cut, shape, or modify with a machine; to effect by aid of machinery; to print with a printing machine.
  • noun In general, any combination of bodies so connected that their relative motions are constrained, and by means of which force and motion may be transmitted and modified, as a screw and its nut, or a lever arranged to turn about a fulcrum or a pulley about its pivot, etc.; especially, a construction, more or less complex, consisting of a combination of moving parts, or simple mechanical elements, as wheels, levers, cams, etc., with their supports and connecting framework, calculated to constitute a prime mover, or to receive force and motion from a prime mover or from another machine, and transmit, modify, and apply them to the production of some desired mechanical effect or work, as weaving by a loom, or the excitation of electricity by an electrical machine.
  • noun Any mechanical contrivance, as the wooden horse with which the Greeks entered Troy; a coach; a bicycle.
  • noun A person who acts mechanically or at the will of another.
  • noun A combination of persons acting together for a common purpose, with the agencies which they use.
  • noun Political Cant A political organization arranged and controlled by one or more leaders for selfish, private or partisan ends; the Tammany machine.
  • noun Supernatural agency in a poem, or a superhuman being introduced to perform some exploit.
  • noun a name sometimes given to one of the simple mechanical powers. See under Mechanical.
  • noun See under Infernal.
  • noun See under Gun.
  • noun a screw or bolt adapted for screwing into metal, in distinction from one which is designed especially to be screwed into wood.
  • noun a workshop where machines are made, or where metal is shaped by cutting, filing, turning, etc.
  • noun a machine for cutting or shaping wood, metal, etc., by means of a tool; especially, a machine, as a lathe, planer, drilling machine, etc., designed for a more or less general use in a machine shop, in distinction from a machine for producing a special article as in manufacturing.
  • noun silken thread especially adapted for use in a sewing machine.
  • noun work done by a machine, in contradistinction to that done by hand labor.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A mechanical or electrical device that performs or assists in the performance of human tasks, whether physical or computational, laborious or for entertainment.
  • noun archaic A vehicle operated mechanically; an automobile.
  • noun telephony, abbreviation An answering machine or, by extension, voice mail.
  • noun computing A computer.
  • noun figuratively A person or organisation that seemingly acts like a machine, being particularly efficient, single-minded, or unemotional.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[French, from Old French, from Latin māchina, from Greek mākhanā, dialectal variant of mēkhanē; see magh- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Borrowing from Middle French machine, from Latin machina ("a machine, engine, contrivance, device, stratagem, trick"), from Ancient Greek μαχανά (makhana), Doric spelling of μηχανή (mēkhanē, "a machine, engine, contrivance, device"), from μῆχος (mēkhos, "means").


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