Using Device vs Devise

Instructor: David Boyles

David has a Master's in English literature. He has taught college English for 5+ years.

What is the difference between 'device' and 'devise?' One is a verb, meaning to make something, while the other is a noun, referring to the thing that gets made.

How Do You Devise a Device?

The iPhone is an amazing device. Or is it a devise? These words are confusing, as they look and sound similar and also have similar meanings. But they do different things. A device is a thing, like the iPhone, but in order for it to exist, Steve Jobs and the Apple engineers had to devise it.

The function a word has in a sentence is called its part of speech. There are nine parts of speech in English and every word fits into at least one of those categories. Two of the most prominent are nouns - words that refer to people, places, and things (dog, house, Tom, the park) - and verbs - words that refer to actions (run, jog, clean, eat).

'Device' and 'devise' both have meanings that have to do with making or creating something, but 'devise' is the verb that refers to the actual making, while 'device' is the thing that gets made.

The phonograph was one of many new devices that were devised by inventor Thomas Edison.

Devise a Plan

'Devise' means to invent or plan something, and it usually refers to a plan that is complicated and requires a lot of thought. It can refer to creating an object, like the iPhone, or a plan. These examples show some of both meanings:

  • Trapped in the well, John had to devise an escape plan.
  • Ken and his team devised a faster system for downloading and uploading music.
  • When their first attempt at creating an time machine didn't work, Jenny and her team were forced to devise a new plan from scratch.
  • The Professor devised a makeshift radio using only two coconuts and some aluminum foil.

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