1 a piece of equipment that uses power such as electricity to do a particular job: a machine that fills the bottles | Could you get me a Coke from the machine? | sewing/washing machine etc (=a machine that can sew, wash clothes etc) | by machine: The letters are sorted by machine.2 a computer: a powerful machine that is ideal for software development3 a group of people that controls an organization, especially a political party: the party machine | the government's propaganda machine4 like a well-oiled machine working very smoothly and effectively: The office runs like a well-oiled machine.5 informal a vehicle: That's an impressive-looking machine you've got there.6 someone who works without stopping, or who seems to have no feelings or independent thoughts: He was a running machine, born to do nothing but win medals.—see also: cash machine, fruit machine, time machine USAGE NOTE: MACHINE WORD CHOICE: machine, device, thing, appliance, gadget You do not usually work a machine directly by hand, and it may be large. Often the word is used with another word before it that describes its purpose: The coffee machine has broken down. Device is more formal. A device may be worked by hand, or be electrical: a device for opening bottles . In spoken English people say thing: a thing to open bottles with . Device is used especially for something that is used to measure or protect something else: a device to find faults in plastic | a contraceptive device An appliance is a machine used for a particular purpose in the home, and is called this especially by the people who produce and sell them: a household appliance such as a dishwasher | domestic appliances A gadget is a cleverly designed small machine, often one that does a complicated action, and is usually modern: My latest gadget is a breadmaker. SPOKEN-WRITTEN When the word before it describes what the machine is for, people sometimes leave out the word machine: Can I use your fax (machine)? When the word before machine ends in -ing, you can sometimes use the same word ending in -er on its own: Lianne is in charge of the photocopier (formal photocopying machine). Often you do not use the word machine at all to talk about a particular machine. For example, you say dishwasher, not dishwashing machine and tumble-drier not tumble-drying machine. 2 verb (T)1 to fasten pieces of cloth together using a sewing machine2 to make or shape something using a machine
Longman dictionary of contemporary English. 2004.