Ma*chine" (mȧ*shēn"), n.
[F., fr. L. machina machine, engine, device, trick, Gr. ?,
from ? means, expedient. Cf. Mechanic.] 1.
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.
☞ The term machine is most commonly applied to such
pieces of mechanism as are used in the industrial arts, for
mechanically shaping, dressing, and combining materials for various
purposes, as in the manufacture of cloth, etc. Where the effect is
chemical, or other than mechanical, the contrivance is usually
denominated an apparatus, not a machine; as, a bleaching
apparatus. Many large, powerful, or specially important pieces of
mechanism are called engines; as, a steam engine,
fire engine, graduating engine, etc. Although there is
no well-settled distinction between the terms engine and
machine among practical men, there is a tendency to restrict the
application of the former to contrivances in which the operating part
is not distinct from the motor.
2. Any mechanical contrivance, as the wooden
horse with which the Greeks entered Troy; a coach; a bicycle.
Dryden. Southey. Thackeray.
3. A person who acts mechanically or at the
will of another.
4. A combination of persons acting together
for a common purpose, with the agencies which they use; as, the
The whole machine of government ought not to
bear upon the people with a weight so heavy and
5. A political organization arranged and
controlled by one or more leaders for selfish, private or partisan
ends. [Political Cant]
6. Supernatural agency in a poem, or a
superhuman being introduced to perform some exploit.
Elementary machine, a name sometimes given
to one of the simple mechanical powers. See under
Mechanical. -- Infernal machine.
See under Infernal. -- Machine
gun.See under Gun. -- Machine
screw, a screw or bolt adapted for screwing into metal,
in distinction from one which is designed especially to be screwed
into wood. -- Machine shop, a workshop
where machines are made, or where metal is shaped by cutting, filing,
turning, etc. -- Machine tool, a machine
for cutting or shaping wood, metal, etc., by means of a tool;
especially, a machine, as a lathe, planer, drilling machine, etc.,
designed for a more or less general use in a machine shop, in
distinction from a machine for producing a special article as in
manufacturing. -- Machine twist, silken
thread especially adapted for use in a sewing machine. --
Machine work, work done by a machine, in
contradistinction to that done by hand labor.