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[muh-sheen] /məˈʃin/
an apparatus consisting of interrelated parts with separate functions, used in the performance of some kind of work:
a sewing machine.
a mechanical apparatus or contrivance; mechanism.
  1. a device that transmits or modifies force or motion.
  2. Also called simple machine. any of six or more elementary mechanisms, as the lever, wheel and axle, pulley, screw, wedge, and inclined plane.
  3. Also called complex machine. a combination of simple machines.
Older Use.
  1. an automobile or airplane.
  2. a typewriter.
a bicycle or motorcycle.
a vending machine:
a cigarette machine.
any complex agency or operating system:
the machine of government.
an organized group of persons that conducts or controls the activities of a political party or organization:
He heads the Democratic machine in our city.
a person or thing that acts in a mechanical or automatic manner:
Routine work had turned her into a machine.
any of various contrivances, especially those formerly used in theater, for producing stage effects.
some agency, personage, incident or other feature introduced for effect into a literary composition.
verb (used with object), machined, machining.
to make, prepare, or finish with a machine or with machine tools.
Doric Greek
1540-50; < French < Latin māchina < Doric Greek māchanā́ pulley, akin to mâchos contrivance; cf. mechanic
Related forms
machineless, adjective
antimachine, adjective
unmachined, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for machine
  • The newest device aiming for efficiency in the retail distribution of dry goods is a merchandise vending machine.
  • Fuel cells can power almost any portable device or machine that uses batteries.
  • The venerable slot machine is undergoing a generational shift.
  • It seems more likely that they pressed the wrong button, or that the machine failed to register their votes properly.
  • OK, so there's no such thing as a gamma ray machine that zaps scientists and turns them into giant green monsters.
  • One common take on this machine is a wheel or water mill that uses changes in weight to continually rotate.
  • For larger lawns, you may prefer to rent a dethatching machine.
  • It's fairly easy for a machine to pick pieces of wood and cardboard out of a mountain of paper.
  • machine tool makers are part of the nation's industrial bedrock.
  • The machine was a large investment, so it takes several years for the machine to pay for itself.
British Dictionary definitions for machine


an assembly of interconnected components arranged to transmit or modify force in order to perform useful work
Also called simple machine. a device for altering the magnitude or direction of a force, esp a lever, screw, wedge, or pulley
a mechanically operated device or means of transport, such as a car, aircraft, etc
any mechanical or electrical device that automatically performs tasks or assists in performing tasks
  1. (modifier) denoting a firearm that is fully automatic as distinguished from semiautomatic
  2. (in combination): machine pistol, machine gun
any intricate structure or agency: the war machine
a mechanically efficient, rigid, or obedient person
an organized body of people that controls activities, policies, etc
(esp in the classical theatre) a device such as a pulley to provide spectacular entrances and exits for supernatural characters
an event, etc, introduced into a literary work for special effect
(transitive) to shape, cut, or remove (excess material) from (a workpiece) using a machine tool
to use a machine to carry out a process on (something)
Derived Forms
machinable, machineable, adjective
machinability, noun
machineless, adjective
machine-like, adjective
Word Origin
C16: via French from Latin māchina machine, engine, from Doric Greek makhana pulley; related to makhos device, contrivance
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for machine

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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machine in Science
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.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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machine in Technology

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.
[Earlier use?]

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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