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Device vs. Machine: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
Device is a tool designed for a specific task. Machine is a complex system often with moving parts, designed for a broad range of tasks.
Device vs. Machine

Key Differences

A device typically refers to a tool or instrument designed to perform a specific task, often with a simpler mechanism, such as a thermometer or a smartphone. A machine, however, usually denotes a more complex apparatus with moving parts, designed for broader or more complicated tasks, like an automobile or a computer.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 25, 2023
Devices are often less complex and may be part of a larger system, like a remote control for a television. Machines, in contrast, are usually more complex, incorporating multiple devices or systems within them to function, such as an aircraft which contains numerous devices like sensors and controls.
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The term device is commonly used in the context of electronic and digital tools, like mobile devices. Machines, conversely, are frequently associated with industrial or mechanical contexts, like manufacturing machines in a factory.
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Many devices are portable and handheld, designed for personal use and convenience, like a calculator. Machines often are larger and stationary, designed for tasks requiring greater power or scale, such as a printing press.
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The evolution of devices often focuses on becoming more user-friendly and compact, emphasizing ease of use and accessibility, like the evolution of personal computers. Machines, however, evolve towards increased efficiency and capability, focusing on enhancing performance and output, like advancements in robotics.
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Comparison Chart

Complexity

Generally less complex
More complex with multiple parts
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Function

Specific, targeted tasks
Broad range of tasks, often more complicated
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Size and Portability

Often smaller and portable
Typically larger and stationary
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Typical Usage

Personal, everyday use
Industrial, mechanical, or large-scale tasks
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Example of Evolution

Smartphones becoming more user-friendly
Cars becoming more fuel-efficient
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Device and Machine Definitions

Device

A device can be an electronic tool used for a particular purpose.
She used a medical device to monitor her heart rate.
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Machine

A machine is a piece of equipment with moving parts that performs a task.
The factory uses a machine to package products.
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Device

In technology, a device is often a handheld or portable gadget.
He downloaded the app on his mobile device.
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Machine

A machine can be a vehicle or apparatus using power to accomplish a task.
She learned to operate the new coffee machine easily.
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Device

An object designed and manufactured to perform one or more functions.
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Machine

In industry, a machine refers to large equipment used in manufacturing.
The workers maintained the machine regularly for optimal performance.
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Device

A literary contrivance, such as parallelism or personification, used to achieve a particular effect.
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Machine

A machine is often an assembly of parts that work together for a specific function.
The washing machine broke down due to a faulty motor.
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Device

A decorative design, figure, or pattern, as one used in embroidery.
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Machine

A device consisting of fixed and moving parts that redirects mechanical energy to accomplish a particular task or set of tasks.
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Device

A graphic symbol or motto, especially in heraldry.
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Machine

See simple machine.
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Device

A plan or scheme for accomplishing something
“Now Lydgate might have called at the warehouse, or might have written a message on a leaf of his pocket-book and left it at the door. Yet these simple devices apparently did not occur to him” (George Eliot).
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Machine

See compound machine.
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Device

Any piece of equipment made for a particular purpose, especially a mechanical or electrical one.
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Machine

A system or device for doing work, as an automobile or jackhammer, together with its power source and auxiliary equipment.
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Device

(computer hardware) A peripheral device; an item of hardware.
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Machine

A system or device, such as a computer, that performs or assists in the performance of a human task
The machine is down.
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Device

A project or scheme, often designed to deceive; a stratagem; an artifice.
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Machine

An intricate natural system or organism, such as the human body.
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Device

(Ireland) An improvised explosive device, home-made bomb
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Machine

A person who acts in a rigid, mechanical, or unconscious manner.
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Device

(rhetoric) A technique that an author or speaker uses to evoke an emotional response in the audience; a rhetorical device.
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Machine

An organized group of people whose members are or appear to be under the control of one or more leaders
A political machine.
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Device

(heraldry) A motto, emblem, or other mark used to distinguish the bearer from others. A device differs from a badge or cognizance primarily as it is a personal distinction, and not a badge borne by members of the same house successively.
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Machine

A device used to produce a stage effect, especially a mechanical means of lowering an actor onto the stage.
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Device

(archaic) Power of devising; invention; contrivance.
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Machine

A literary device used to produce an effect, especially the introduction of a supernatural being to resolve a plot.
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Device

(legal) An image used in whole or in part as a trademark or service mark.
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Machine

An answering machine
Leave a message on my machine if I'm not home.
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Device

(printing) An image or logo denoting official or proprietary authority or provenience.
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Machine

Of, relating to, or felt to resemble a machine
Machine repairs.
Machine politics.
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Device

(obsolete) A spectacle or show.
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Machine

To cut, shape, or finish by machine.
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Device

(obsolete) Opinion; decision.
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Machine

To be cut, shaped, or finished by machine
This metal machines easily.
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Device

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.
His device in against Babylon, to destroy it.
Their recent device of demanding benevolences.
He disappointeth the devices of the crafty.
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Machine

A device that directs and controls energy, often in the form of movement or electricity, to produce a certain effect.
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Device

Power of devising; invention; contrivance.
I must have instruments of my own device.
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Machine

(dated) A vehicle operated mechanically, such as an automobile or an airplane.
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Device

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.
Knights-errant used to distinguish themselves by devices on their shields.
A banner with this strange device -Excelsior.
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Machine

An answering machine or, by extension, voice mail.
I called you earlier, but all I got was the machine.
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Device

Anything fancifully conceived.
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Machine

(computing) A computer.
Game developers assume they're pushing the limits of the machine.
He refuses to turn off his Linux machine.
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Device

A spectacle or show.
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Machine

(figuratively) A person or organisation that seemingly acts like a machine, being particularly efficient, single-minded, or unemotional.
Bruce Campbell was a "demon-killing machine" because he made quick work of killing demons.
The government has become a money-making machine.
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Device

Opinion; decision.
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Machine

Especially, the group that controls a political or similar organization; a combination of persons acting together for a common purpose, with the agencies which they use.
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Device

Any artifactual object designed to perform an action or process, with or without an operator in attendance.
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Machine

(poetry) Supernatural agency in a poem, or a superhuman being introduced to perform some exploit.
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Device

An instrumentality invented for a particular purpose;
The device is small enough to wear on your wrist
A device intended to conserve water
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Machine

The system of special interest groups that supports a political party, especially in urban areas.
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Device

Something in an artistic work designed to achieve a particular effect
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Machine

Penis.
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Device

Any clever (deceptive) maneuver;
He would stoop to any device to win a point
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Machine

(historical) A contrivance in the Ancient Greek theatre for indicating a change of scene, by means of which a god might cross the stage or deliver a divine message; the deus ex machina.
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Device

Any ornamental pattern or design (as in embroidery)
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Machine

(obsolete) A bathing machine.
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Device

An emblematic design (especially in heraldry);
He was recognized by the device on his shield
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Machine

To make by machinery.
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Device

A device is a piece of equipment created for a specific function.
A GPS device helps drivers navigate unfamiliar roads.
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Machine

To shape or finish by machinery; (usually, more specifically) to shape subtractively by metal-cutting with machine-controlled toolpaths.
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Device

A device refers to an object or mechanism designed to perform a particular task.
The fire alarm device activated during the drill.
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Machine

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.
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Device

A device can also mean a strategy or technique.
The author used a literary device to enhance the story.
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Machine

Any mechanical contrivance, as the wooden horse with which the Greeks entered Troy; a coach; a bicycle.
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Machine

A person who acts mechanically or at the will of another.
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Machine

A combination of persons acting together for a common purpose, with the agencies which they use; as, the social machine.
The whole machine of government ought not to bear upon the people with a weight so heavy and oppressive.
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Machine

A political organization arranged and controlled by one or more leaders for selfish, private or partisan ends; the Tammany machine.
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Machine

Supernatural agency in a poem, or a superhuman being introduced to perform some exploit.
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Machine

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.
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Machine

Any mechanical or electrical device that transmits or modifies energy to perform or assist in the performance of human tasks
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Machine

An intricate organization that accomplishes its goals efficiently;
The war machine
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Machine

An efficient person;
The boxer was a magnificent fighting machine
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Machine

4-wheeled motor vehicle; usually propelled by an internal combustion engine;
He needs a car to get to work
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Machine

A group that controls the activities of a political party;
He was endorsed by the Democratic machine
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Machine

A device for overcoming resistance at one point by applying force at some other point
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Machine

Turn, shape, mold, or otherwise finish by machinery
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Machine

Make by machinery;
The Americans were machining while others still hand-made cars
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Machine

A machine can also be a computer or a system that processes data.
He upgraded his computer machine to improve its speed.
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

What is a machine?

A machine is a complex system, often with moving parts, for various tasks.
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Nov 25, 2023

What is a device?

A device is a tool designed for a specific task, often electronic.
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Are all machines electronic?

No, machines can be mechanical, electronic, or a combination.
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Nov 25, 2023

Can a device be part of a machine?

Yes, devices can be components of a machine.
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Nov 25, 2023

Do all devices use electricity?

No, some devices are mechanical or manual.
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Is a computer considered a device or a machine?

It's often referred to as both, depending on context.
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What's an example of a simple machine?

A lever or a pulley is an example of a simple machine.
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Nov 25, 2023

Are devices always smaller than machines?

Generally, yes, but it's not a strict rule.
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Is a kitchen appliance a device or a machine?

It can be considered both, depending on its complexity.
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Nov 25, 2023

Is a smartphone a device or a machine?

A smartphone is typically considered a device.
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Nov 25, 2023

Can machines operate without human intervention?

Some machines can, especially those with automated systems.
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Nov 25, 2023

Are machines always more expensive than devices?

Not necessarily, as cost depends on complexity and materials used.
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Nov 25, 2023

Do all machines produce physical work?

Most do, but some are designed for data processing or analysis.
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Do machines always have moving parts?

Most do, but some machines work on electrical or static principles.
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Is a robot a device or a machine?

A robot is usually considered a machine.
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Nov 25, 2023

Can a device function independently?

Yes, many devices are designed to work independently.
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What differentiates a device from a tool?

A device usually implies more complexity or electronic components.
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Can a machine be portable?

Some machines are portable, like a sewing machine.
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Can the term 'device' refer to software?

No, it typically refers to hardware.
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Are digital devices considered machines?

They are usually categorized as devices, not machines.
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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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