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Device vs. Devise

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  Angbeen Chaudhary  —  Grammar Tips

It is very easy to make spelling errors. Not even the most experienced writers are immune to these simple, but potentially embarrassing, mistakes. Usually, word processors will identify misspelled words and prompt you to correct them. In some cases, however, changing just one letter can form an entirely different English word. Spell checkers are less likely to identify these mistakes, leaving you with a nonsensical sentence, poor grammar, or both. The words devise and device illustrate this point. There’s only one letter difference between their spellings, but they are actually different parts of speech, and are never interchangeable.


The word device originated from Middle English: from Old French devis, based on Latin divis- ‘divided’, from the verb dividere . The original sense was ‘desire or intention’, found now only in leave someone to their own devices. Devise also originated from the same origin as device.

Device as noun:

Device is used as a noun which represents a thing made or adapted for a particular purpose, especially a piece of mechanical or electronic equipment.

A measuring device was used for the measurements.

Device is also a plan, method, or trick with a particular aim.

Writing a letter to a newspaper is a traditional device for signalling dissent.

Devise as verb:

Devise is used as a verb in English language where it means plan or invent (a complex procedure, system, or mechanism) by careful thought.

A training program should be devised.

In the language of law, device means to leave (something, especially real estate) to someone by the terms of a will.


Apparently a patron noticed the devise in the back parking lot of the movie theater. [Cape Cod Today]

Soon these devises were popping up everywhere on sidewalks. [San Mateo Daily Journal]

A South Korean lawyer who is an avid user of the iPhone is waging a privacy battle against Apple over the device’s tracking capabilities. [Sydney Morning Herald]

That leaves little time for Congress to devise and pass a plan to raise the debt ceiling. [NPR]

Today’s devices possess larger hard drives and can record high definition signals. [Globe and Mail]

However, she quickly devises a devious lie. [National Post]

Device or devise:

Device and devise are spelled similarly, but they are different parts of speech. Device is a noun that refers to a piece of equipment used for a specific purpose. Devise is a verb that means to invent or plan something. You can use a simple mnemonic to remember that device is a noun. It contains the word vice, another noun, in its spelling. Now that you know the difference between these two words, you will be able to use them correctly in your own writing.

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"Device vs. Devise." STANDS4 LLC, 2018. Web. 22 Feb. 2018. <>.

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