[ap-uh-rat-uhs, -rey-tuhs]
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noun, plural ap·pa·rat·us, ap·pa·rat·us·es.
  1. a group or combination of instruments, machinery, tools, materials, etc., having a particular function or intended for a specific use: Our town has excellent fire-fighting apparatus.
  2. any complex instrument or mechanism for a particular purpose.
  3. any system or systematic organization of activities, functions, processes, etc., directed toward a specific goal: the apparatus of government; espionage apparatus.
  4. Physiology. a group of structurally different organs working together in the performance of a particular function: the digestive apparatus.

Origin of apparatus

1620–30; < Latin apparātus equipment, orig. the act of equipping, preparation, equivalent to apparā(re) to prepare (ap- ap-1 + parāre; see prepare) + -tus suffix of v. action

Synonyms for apparatus

See more synonyms for on Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for apparatus


noun plural -ratus or -ratuses
  1. a collection of instruments, machines, tools, parts, or other equipment used for a particular purpose
  2. a machine having a specific functionbreathing apparatus
  3. the means by which something operates; organizationthe apparatus of government
  4. anatomy any group of organs having a specific function

Word Origin for apparatus

C17: from Latin, from apparāre to make ready
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

Word Origin and History for apparatus

1620s, from Latin apparatus "tools, implements, equipment; preparation, a preparing," noun of state from past participle stem of apparare "prepare," from ad- "to" (see ad-) + parare "make ready" (see pare).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

apparatus in Medicine


[ăp′ə-rātəs, -rătəs]
n. pl. apparatus
  1. An integrated group of materials or devices used for a particular purpose.
  2. A group or system of organs that collectively performs a specific function or process.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.