[ muh-sheen ]
See synonyms for: machinemachinedmachining on

  1. an apparatus consisting of interrelated parts with separate functions, used in the performance of some kind of work: a sewing machine.

  2. a mechanical apparatus or contrivance; mechanism.

  1. Mechanics.

    • a device that transmits or modifies force or motion.

    • Also called sim·ple ma·chine . any of six or more elementary mechanisms, as the lever, wheel and axle, pulley, screw, wedge, and inclined plane.

    • Also called com·plex ma·chine . a combination of simple machines.

  2. Older Use.

    • an automobile or airplane.

    • a typewriter.

  3. a bicycle or motorcycle.

  4. a vending machine: a cigarette machine.

  5. any complex agency or operating system: the machine of government.

  6. 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.

  7. a person or thing that acts in a mechanical or automatic manner: Routine work had turned her into a machine.

  8. any of various contrivances, especially those formerly used in the theater, for producing stage effects: The ancient Greeks used a theatrical machine to lower actors onto the stage.

  9. some agency, personage, incident or other feature introduced for effect into a literary composition.

verb (used with object),ma·chined, ma·chin·ing.
  1. to make, prepare, or finish with a machine or with machine tools.

Origin of machine

First recorded in 1540–50; from French, from Latin māchina, from Doric Greek māchanā́ “pulley,” akin to mâchos “contrivance”; cf. mechanic

Other words from machine

  • ma·chine·less, adjective
  • an·ti·ma·chine, adjective
  • un·ma·chined, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use machine in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for machine


/ (məˈʃiːn) /

  1. an assembly of interconnected components arranged to transmit or modify force in order to perform useful work

  2. Also called: simple machine a device for altering the magnitude or direction of a force, esp a lever, screw, wedge, or pulley

  1. a mechanically operated device or means of transport, such as a car, aircraft, etc

  2. 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

  3. any intricate structure or agency: the war machine

  4. a mechanically efficient, rigid, or obedient person

  5. an organized body of people that controls activities, policies, etc

  6. (esp in the classical theatre) a device such as a pulley to provide spectacular entrances and exits for supernatural characters

  7. an event, etc, introduced into a literary work for special effect

  1. (tr) to shape, cut, or remove (excess material) from (a workpiece) using a machine tool

  2. to use a machine to carry out a process on (something)

Origin of machine

C16: via French from Latin māchina machine, engine, from Doric Greek makhana pulley; related to makhos device, contrivance

Derived forms of machine

  • machinable or machineable, adjective
  • machinability, noun
  • machineless, adjective
  • machine-like, adjective

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

Scientific definitions for machine


[ mə-shēn ]

  1. 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 © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.