a. A device consisting of fixed and moving parts that redirects mechanical energy to accomplish a particular task or set of tasks.
b. See simple machine.
c. See compound machine.
2. A system or device for doing work, as an automobile or jackhammer, together with its power source and auxiliary equipment.
3. A system or device, such as a computer, that performs or assists in the performance of a human task: The machine is down.
4. An intricate natural system or organism, such as the human body.
5. A person who acts in a rigid, mechanical, or unconscious manner.
6. An organized group of people whose members are or appear to be under the control of one or more leaders: a political machine.
a. A device used to produce a stage effect, especially a mechanical means of lowering an actor onto the stage.
b. A literary device used to produce an effect, especially the introduction of a supernatural being to resolve a plot.
8. An answering machine: Leave a message on my machine if I'm not home.
Of, relating to, or felt to resemble a machine: machine repairs; machine politics.
v. ma·chined, ma·chin·ing, ma·chines
To cut, shape, or finish by machine.
To be cut, shaped, or finished by machine: This metal machines easily.
[French, from Old French, from Latin māchina, from Greek mākhanā, dialectal variant of mēkhanē; see magh- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.