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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.

a device that transmits or modifies force or motion.
Also called simple machine. any of six or more elementary mechanisms, as the lever, wheel and axle, pulley, screw, wedge, and inclined plane.
Also called complex machine. a combination of simple machines.

Older Use.

an automobile or airplane.
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.
to make, prepare, or finish with a machine or with machine tools.
Contemporary Examples

Check: “This atom smashing business is going to herald the final victory of the machine.”
Mailer’s Letters Pack a Punch and a Surprising Degree of Sweetness Ronald K. Fried December 13, 2014

“The most interesting story here is that Obama is going against the old Inouye machine,” Moore said.
Even Hawaii Hates Obama Now David Freedlander August 7, 2014

Beneath the sign, young men stood with machine guns slung over their shoulders, while female residents queued to see Dr. Sheikh.
Winter, Food Shortages, Descend on Syria’s Refugees Mike Giglio January 8, 2013

Fighting is ongoing; both sides have used grenades and machine guns.
Meanwhile in the Middle East Lizzie Crocker, Andrew Carter May 6, 2011

The first machine, the 914—so called because it could copy on paper nine inches by fourteen inches—was a complex, clunky beast.
Pioneers in Printing The Daily Beast October 20, 2014

Historical Examples

But all this time the squat figure of the chief advanced like a machine.
Camp-fire and Wigwam Edward Sylvester Ellis

At the risk of overturning the machine he veered it sharply to the left.
Way of the Lawless Max Brand

I never handled a machine that purred along in neater style.
Motor Matt’s Clue Stanley R. Matthews

Once more the sun flashed on her hair; then the machine disappeared.
Way of the Lawless Max Brand

The machine must be immensely strong, and yet it is essential that it should be light.
The Aeroplane Claude Grahame-White and Harry Harper

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

(modifier) denoting a firearm that is fully automatic as distinguished from semiautomatic
(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)

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.
[Earlier use?]


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