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

  • n. A contrivance or an invention serving a particular purpose, especially a machine used to perform one or more relatively simple tasks.
  • n. A technique or means.
  • n. A plan or scheme, especially a malign one.
  • n. A literary contrivance, such as parallelism or personification, used to achieve a particular effect.
  • n. A decorative design, figure, or pattern, as one used in embroidery. See Synonyms at figure.
  • n. A graphic symbol or motto, especially in heraldry.
  • n. Archaic The act, state, or power of devising.
  • idiom leave to (one's) own devices To allow to do as one pleases: left the child to her own devices for an hour in the afternoon.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Any piece of equipment made for a particular purpose, especially a mechanical or electrical one.
  • n. A project or scheme, often designed to deceive; a stratagem; an artifice.
  • n. A technique that an author or speaker uses to evoke an emotional response in the audience; a rhetorical device.
  • n. ​(heraldry) 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.
  • n. Power of devising; invention; contrivance.
  • n. An image used in whole or in part as a trademark or service mark.
  • n. An image or logo denoting official or proprietary authority or provenience.
  • n. A spectacle or show.
  • n. Opinion; decision.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. That which is devised, or formed by design; a contrivance; an invention; a project; a scheme; often, a scheme to deceive; a stratagem; an artifice.
  • n. Power of devising; invention; contrivance.
  • n.
  • n. An emblematic design, generally consisting of one or more figures with a motto, used apart from heraldic bearings to denote the historical situation, the ambition, or the desire of the person adopting it. See Cognizance.
  • n. Improperly, an heraldic bearing.
  • n. Anything fancifully conceived.
  • n. A spectacle or show.
  • n. Opinion; decision.
  • n. any artifactual object designed to perform an action or process, with or without an operator in attendance.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Disposition; desire; will; pleasure.
  • n. Opinion; view.
  • n. The act or state of devising or inventing; invention; inventiveness; a contriving.
  • n. An invention or a contrivance; something devised or fitted for a particular use or purpose, especially something of a simple character or of little complexity: as, a device for checking motion.
  • n. A scheme or plan; something devised or studied out for promoting an end; specifically, something contrived for an evil or a selfish purpose; a wrongful project, stratagem, or trick.
  • n. Something fancifully designed, as a picture, a, pattern, a piece of embroidery, the cut or ornament of a garment, etc.
  • n. The representation of some object, group of objects, or scene, generally accompanied by a motto or other legend, and used as an expression of the bearer's aspirations or principles.
  • n.
  • n. The motto attached to or suited for such an emblem.
  • n. A spectacle; a show.
  • n. Synonyms Contrivance, Shift, etc. (see expedient, n.; see also artifice), wile, ruse, manœuver, trick.
  • n. Design, symbol.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. an instrumentality invented for a particular purpose
  • n. any clever maneuver
  • n. something in an artistic work designed to achieve a particular effect
  • n. any ornamental pattern or design (as in embroidery)
  • n. an emblematic design (especially in heraldry)


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

Middle English, from Old French devis, division, wish, and Old French devise, design, both from Latin dīvīsus, dīvīsa, past participle of dīvidere, to divide, separate; see divide.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Old French devis, from Latin divisus, past participle of dividere ("to divide"), thus originally, when goods were being divided among people, a mark put on each item to say who was getting what.



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  • In rare/antique books, a printer's ornament or a publisher's identifying mark, usually on the copyright page of a book. Sometimes used interchangeably with colophon.

    February 22, 2007