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1540s, "structure of any kind," from Middle French machine "device, contrivance," from Latin machina "machine, engine, military machine; device, trick; instrument" (cf. Spanish maquina, Italian macchina), from Greek makhana, Doric variant of mekhane "device, means," related to mekhos "means, expedient, contrivance," from PIE *maghana- "that which enables," from root *magh- (1) "to be able, have power" (cf. Old Church Slavonic mogo "be able," Old English mæg "I can;" see may (v.)).
Main modern sense of "device made of moving parts for applying mechanical power" (1670s) probably grew out of mid-17c. senses of "apparatus, appliance" and "military siege-tower." In late 19c. slang the word was used for both "penis" and "vagina," one of the few so honored. Political sense is U.S. slang, first recorded 1876. Machine age is attested by 1851:
The idea of remodelling society at public meetings is one of the least reasonable which ever entered the mind of an agitator: and the notion that the relations of the sexes can be re-arranged and finally disposed of by preamble and resolution, is one of the latest, as it should have been the last, vagary of a machine age. ["The Literary World," Nov. 1, 1851]Machine for living (in) "house" translates Le Corbusier's machine à habiter (1923).
mid-15c., "decide, resolve," from Old French and Latin usages (see machine (n.)). Related: Machined; machining. Meaning "to make or form on a machine" is from 1878. Related: Machined; machining.
A device that applies force, changes the direction of a force, or changes the strength of a force, in order to perform a task, generally involving work done on a load. Machines are often designed to yield a high mechanical advantage to reduce the effort needed to do that work. ◇ A simple machine is a wheel, a lever, or an inclined plane. All other machines can be built using combinations of these simple machines; for example, a drill uses a combination of gears (wheels) to drive helical inclined planes (the drill-bit) to split a material and carve a hole in it.
Common term for "computer", usually when considered at the hardware level. The Turing Machine, an early example of this usage, was however neither hardware nor software, but only an idea.