Device vs. Devise – What’s the Difference?

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.

What is the Difference Between Device and Devise?

In this article, I will compare device vs. devise. I will use each of these words in at least one example sentence.

Plus, I will give you a helpful trick to use when you can’t remember whether to use device or devise.

When to Use Device

device versus devise sentence What does device mean? Device is a noun. It refers to a piece of equipment used for a specific purpose.

In contemporary English, device often refers to personal electronics like phones, tablets, and laptops, but the word has other uses, as well.

Here are some examples,

  • Please stow all large electronic devices under your seat prior to takeoff.
  • Noam Chomsky calls the neurobiological mechanism by which infants develop an understanding of language the Language Acquisition Device.
  • I have invented a device that slices pizza quickly and cleanly, but its blades are sharp and very dangerous.
  • If your device is in better shape than they expected, they’ll pay you more than their quote. –The Wall Street Journal

One could think of a device as something that has been devised.

When to Use Devise

Definition of devise definition of device definitionWhat does devise mean? Devise, meanwhile, is a verb. It means to plan or invent something.

You can see some examples in these sentences,

  • “Quick, Blackbeard! Devise an escape plan!” said the captive pirate.
  • I thought I had devised a crafty scheme to get rich by buying and selling stocks, but instead, I lost my family’s fortune.
  • Twelve elves could not devise a better shipping infrastructure than the one in place at Carol’s shipping service.
  • Ozkan-Haller is carrying out a three-year research project to devise a sneaker-wave early warning system that could be broadcast and published by the National Weather Service. –The Washington Post

In legal contexts, devise can also mean to leave property to someone in a will.

Trick to Remember the Difference

Define devise and define deviceHere is a helpful trick to remember devise vs. device.

While they appear similar, devise and device are actually different parts of speech. Devise is a verb, while device is a noun.

You can remember that device is a noun since it contains the word vice, which is itself a noun. By using this mnemonic, you can always be certain you are choosing the correct word.

Also, if it aids your memory at all, the difference between devise and device is the same as the difference between advise and advice.

Summary

Is it 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.

In summary,

  • Device is a noun.
  • Devise is a verb.