From the second edition (1989):
device
(dɪˈvaɪs) Forms: 3–5 deuis, 4 Sc. deuiss, 4–5 deuys, Sc. dewis(e, -ys(s, -ice, -yce, 4–6 deuyse, diuis(e, dyuys(e, 4–7 deuise, devise, 5–6 deuyce, 6 Sc. devyiss, 6–7 divice, 5– device. [Here two original OF. and ME. words devis and devise have run together. The actual form device represents phonetically ME. devīs, devȳs, a. OF. devis masc., ‘division, partition, separation, difference, disposition, wish, desire, will’ (Godefroy); ‘speech, talke, discourse, a conference, or communication; deuising, conferring, or talking together; also, a deuice, inuention; disposition or appointment of’ (Cotgr.); in mod.F. ‘action of discoursing, conversation, talk, specification (of work to be done)’. But the form devise (when not a mere variant spelling of device: see below) represents OF. devise fem. ‘division, separation, difference, heraldic device, will, testament, plan, design, wish, desire, liking, opinion, conversation, conference, manner, quality, kind’ (Godefroy); ‘a deuice, posie, embleme, conceit, coat or cognizance borne; an inuention; a diuision; bound, meere, or marke diuiding land’ (Cotgr.); in mod.F. ‘action of dividing, that which divides or distinguishes, the motto of a shield, seal, etc., an adage’. The two French words correspond to Pr. devis, devisa, It. diviso, divisa, Romanic derivs. of dīvīs- ppl. stem of dīvīdĕre to divide: see devise v.
The older word in ME. appears to have been devis, devys, but devise also appears from Caxton onward, and prob. earlier, at least in the phrase, to devise = F. à devise (sense 12). It is however very difficult to distinguish the two words, since devise, devyse occurs not only as the proper spelling of the repr. of OF. devise, but also, in northern and late ME., and in the 16th c., as a frequent spelling of ME. devis, mod. device. In rimes it is generally possible to separate devise = devis, device, from devise proper, but in other positions it is often impossible; nor does the sense give much help, because in OF. devis and devise partly coincided in meaning, while the English distinctions do not always agree with the French. In later times device gradually became the accepted form in all senses, except in that of ‘testamentary bequest’, which still remains devise, q.v. There is also some reason to think that in the 17th c. devises (-aɪzɪz) was, in the south of England, used in the plural, when device (-aɪs) was written or at least pronounced in the singular: cf. house sing., houses (-zɪz) pl. The sense-development had to a great extent taken place before the words were adopted in English, so that here the historical and logical orders do not agree.]


1. The action of devising, contriving, or planning; the faculty of devising, inventive faculty; invention, ingenuity. Now arch. and rare. (orig. devis).

c1400 Rom. Rose 1413, I ne can the nombre telle Of stremes smale, that by devys Mirthe had don come through condys. 1513 More Rich. III, Wks. 58 The deuise of some convenient pretext. 1563 Shute Archit. Bjb, A pillour of their owne deuise. 1568 Bible (Bishops') Acts xvii. 29 Golde, siluer, or stone grauen by art and mans deuice. 1594 Spenser Amoretti xxx, That fire, which all thing melts, should harden yse; And yse, which is congeald with sencelesse cold, Should kindle fyre by wonderful devyse! 1600 Shakes. A.Y.L. i. i. 174 Hee's gentle‥full of noble deuise. 1601 Holland Pliny II. 459 As touching the deuise and inuention of mony. 1611 Bible Eccles. ix. 10 There is no worke, nor deuice, nor knowledge, nor wisedome in the graue whither thou goest. 1634 Sir T. Herbert Trav. 196 By device, tis so made to open, that [etc.]. 1858 T. Parker Historic Americans (1871) 15 Much of our social machinery‥is of his [Franklin's] device.


b. The manner in which a thing is devised or framed; design. arch.

c1400 Destr. Troy 1576 The sydes‥of sotell deuyse. 1611 Shakes. Cymb. i. vi. 189 'Tis Plate of rare deuice. 1810 Scott Lady of L. i. xxvi, It was a lodge of ample size, But strange of structure and device. 1870 Bryant Iliad I. v. 136 Who knew to shape all works of rare device. a1881 Rossetti Rose Mary, A chiming shower of strange device.


c. A contrived shape or figure. Obs.

a1400–50 Alexander 359 Þis grete god‥In a dredfull deuys, a dragons forme.


2. Purpose, intention. Obs. (orig. devis).

c1320 Sir Beues 1887 To sire Beues a smot therwith A sterne strok‥Ac a failede of his diuis And in the heued smot Trenchefis. c1440 Promp. Parv. 120 Devyce, purpose, seria. 1548 Hall Chron. 75b, When he had thus ordered his affaires accordyng to his device and ordre.


3. Will, pleasure, inclination, fancy, desire. In earlier use chiefly in phr. at one's (own) device [OF. à mon, ton, etc. devis]; later only in pl.; now only in phr. left to one's own devices, etc., where it is associated with sense 6. (orig devis).

a1300 Cursor M. 11576 (Cott.) Þat he ne suld rise, Al at his aun deuise. 1303 R. Brunne Handl. Synne 11786 Hyt ys sloghenes and feyntes To take penaunce at þy dyuys. c1450 Crt. of Love xii, No sapphire of Inde, no ruby rich of price There lacked than‥ne thing to my devise. 1523 Ld. Berners Froiss. I. cccxcviii. 691 They‥toke a place of grounde at their deuyse, abyding their enemyes. 1552 Bk. Com. Prayer Gen. Conf., We haue folowed to much the deuyses [ed. 1607 devices] and desyres of our owne heartes. 1599 Sandys Europæ Spec. (1632) 38 Loosing and knitting marriages, by devise at pleasure. 1611 Bible Jer. xviii. 12 We will walk after our own deuices. 1648 Milton Ps. lxxxi. 52 Their own conceits they follow'd still, Their own devises blind. 1870 Mrs. H. Wood G. Canterbury's Will xv, What would you do, if left to your own devices?


b. Will or desire as expressed or conveyed to another; command, order, direction, appointment. Chiefly in phr. at (some one's) device. Obs. (Cf. devise v. 3.) (ME. devis; OF. devise.)

1307 Elegy Edw. I iv, That hit he write at mi devys [rime pris]. c1325 Coer de L. 1439 Lokes that ye doo be my devys. c1440 Ipomydon 716 Full feyre he dyd his servyse, And servyd the quene at hyr devyse. c1470 Henry Wallace viii. 1150 Scho graithit hir apon a gudlye wis, With gold and ger and folk at hir dewis. Ibid. x. 473 The Bruce askyt; ‘Will thow do my dewyss?’ 1523 Ld. Berners Froiss. I. cxlv. 173, I am natte determynedde to folowe his deuyse and ease [faire à sa devise ne à son aise]. 1535 Stewart Cron. Scot. II. 396 God‥At his devyiss all thing in erth is done. 1535 Coverdale Dan. iv. 24 It is the very deuyce of him yt is hyest of all.


4. Opinion, notion; what one thinks about something. Sometimes it may mean ‘opinion offered, advice, counsel’. Obs. (In 15th c. devis and devise. OF. devise, opinion, sentiment.)

c1325 E.E. Allit. P. A. 199 Bounden bene Wyth þe myryeste margarys at my deuyse þat euer I seȝ ȝet with myn yȝen. 1393 Gower Conf. I. 278 As thou shalt here my devise, Thou might thy self the better avise. c1400 Rom. Rose 651 For certes at my devys Ther is no place in Paradys So good. c1420 Sir Amadace (Camden) xxix, Thenne iche mon sayd thayre deuise. c1430 Lydg. Hors, Shepe, & G. 86 Pees to profyr, as to my Devyce, Makythe no delaye. c1435 Torr. Portugal 779 Now wolle ye telle me your devyce, That how I may govern me? c1450 St. Cuthbert (Surtees) 2698 As a woman war vnwyse Þus sho spird him hir deuyse. 1568 Grafton Chron. II. 395 When the Duke of Norffolk had heard fully his device, he tooke it not in good parte. 1594 2nd Pt. Contention (1843) 125, I prethe Dicke let me heare thy deuise.


5. Familiar conversation, talk, chat. Obs. [OF. and mod.F. devise.]

c1489 Caxton Blanchardyn xli. 153 Blanchardyn‥talked wyth the kynge‥his fader And as they were thus in deuyses [etc.]. c1500 Melusine lix. 348 After many playsaunt deuyses and joyfull wordes, they wesshed theire handes and sette them at dyner. 1581 G. Pettie Guazzo's Civ. Conv. iii. (1586) 127 To entertaine them with familiar device, as the fashion in Fraunce and other places is. 1600–10 in Shaks. C. Praise 40 What for your businesse, news, device, foolerie and libertie, I never dealt better since I was a man.


6. Something devised or contrived for bringing about some end or result; an arrangement, plan, scheme, project, contrivance; an ingenious or clever expedient; often one of an underhand or evil character; a plot, stratagem, trick.

c1290 S. Eng. Leg. I. 381/156 ‘Sire,’ he seide, ‘mi deuis þou schalt here i-seo: þe halle ichulle furst arere.’ 1494 Fabyan Chron. vii. 358 All was done according to theyr former deuyse. 1535 Coverdale Ps. xxi. 11 They‥ymagined soch deuyces, as they were not able to perfourme. 1548 Hall Chron. 12 This devise so much pleased the sedicious congregation. Ibid. 48b, This device of fortifying an armye was at this tyme fyrst invented. Ibid. 158b, To set open the fludde gates of these devises. 1553 T. Wilson Rhet. 7 His pollicies and wittie devises in behove of the publique weal. 1568 Bible (Bishops') 2 Cor. ii. 11 We are not ignorant of his deuises [1611 deuices]. 1601 Shakes. Twel. N. ii. iii. 176 Excellent, I smell a deuice. 1603 Knolles Hist. Turks (1638) 140 The Captaine‥declared to him his whole deuise. 1782 Priestley Corrupt. Chr. I. i. 104 By this happy device‥[they] screen themselves. 1843 Macaulay Lays Anc. Rome Pref. (1864) 25 The device by which Elfleda was substituted for her young mistress.


7. concr. The result of contriving; something devised or framed by art or inventive power; an invention, contrivance; esp. a mechanical contrivance (usually of a simple character) for some particular purpose.

c1325 E.E. Allit. P. A. 139, I hoped þe water were a deuyse Bytwene myrþez by merez made. 1570 Dee Math. Pref. 35 He alone, with his deuises and engynes‥spoyled and discomfited the whole Army. 1577 B. Googe Heresbach's Husb. i. (1586) 41b, The devise was, a lowe kinde of Carre with a couple of wheeles, and the Front armed with sharpe Syckles, which forced by the beast through the Corne, did cut downe al before it. 1665 Sir T. Herbert Trav. (1677) 120 To remedy which they have devices like Turrets upon the tops of their Chimneys to suck in the air for refreshment. 1874 Knight Dict. Mech. I. 218/1 The devices for baling cut hay. 1884 [See devil n. 8].


b. Used of things non-material.

1529 More Supplic. Soulys Wks. 326/2 This exposicion is nether our deuise nor ani new founden fantasy, but a very trueth well perceiued. 1587 Golding De Mornay Ep. Ded. 5 It is not a deuise of man as other Religions are. 1614 Bp. Hall Recoll. Treat. Ep. Ded. Aiij, It was a mad conceit‥That an huge Giant beares up the earth‥If by this devise he had meant onely an Embleme of Kings.


8. Something artistically devised or framed; a fancifully conceived design or figure.

1399 Langl. Rich. Redeles iii. 178 In quentise of clothinge ffor to queme sir pride‥and iche day a newe deuyse, it dulleth my wittis. 1465 Mann. & Househ. Exp. 490 My master bout of Arnold gooldsmythe a dyvyse of goold for mastres Margret. 1555 Eden Decades 159 Curiously buylded with many pleasaunt diuises. 1665 Sir T. Herbert Trav. (1677) 119 The glass‥curiously painted with such knots and devices as the Jews usually make for ornament. 1821 Craig Lect. Drawing i. 21 A practice of painting, in curious devices and figures, the coffins destined for the dead. 1879 H. Phillips Notes Coins 1 The most modern [coins] present complicated and intricate devices.


9. spec. An emblematic figure or design, esp. one borne or adopted by a particular person, family, etc., as a heraldic bearing, a cognizance, etc.: usually accompanied by a motto.

c1350 Will. Palerne 3222 Þat i haue a god schel[d]‥& wel & faire wiþ-inne a werwolf depeynted‥þe quen þan dede comaunde to crafti men i-nowe, þat deuis him were diȝt er þat day eue. c1385 Chaucer L.G.W. 1272 Dido, And beryn in hise devysis for hire sake, N'ot I nat what. 1489 Caxton Faytes of A. iv. xv. 276 They take armes att theyre owne wylle and suche a deuyse as them plaiseth, wherof som grownde‥the same upon theyre name. 1581 G. Pettie Guazzo's Civ. Conv. ii. (1586) 108b, A Carcanet of golde‥whereon‥is bravelie set forth the devise or armes of the Academie. 1602 Marston Ant. & Mel. v. Wks. 1856 I. 55, I did send for you to drawe me a devise, an Imprezza, by Sinecdoche a Mott. I wold haue you paint me for my device a good fat legge of ewe mutton. 1608 Shakes. Per. ii. ii. 19 The deuice he beares vpon his shield Is a blacke Ethyope, reaching at the sunne. The word, Lux tua vita mihi. 1651 Hobbes Leviath. i. x. 45 Shields painted with such Devises as they pleased. 1790 Pennant London 116 (R.) With the hart couchant under a tree, and other devices of Richard II. 1862 Burton Bk. Hunter (1863) 63 The devices or trade emblems of special favourites among the old printers.


b. A motto or legend borne with or in place of such a design.

1724 Swift Drapier's Lett. vi, I observed the device upon his coach to be Libertas et natale solum. 1759 Robertson Hist. Scot. vii. (an. 1587), Repeating‥sentences which she borrowed from some of the devices then in vogue: aut fer, aut feri [etc.]. 1851 Longfellow ‘Excelsior’, A banner with the strange device, ‘Excelsior!’


10. A fanciful, ingenious, or witty writing or expression, a ‘conceit’. Obs. or arch.

1576 Gascoigne Notes making of verse §1 in Steele Gl. (Arb.) 31 By this aliquid salis, I meane some good and fine deuise, shewing the quicke capacitie of a writer. 1576 Fleming Panopl. Epist. 342 In versifying‥his devises are not darkened with mystie cloudes‥the conveiaunce of his matter is manifest. 1645 Kingdom's Weekly Post 16 Dec. 76 This is the man who would have his device alwayes in his sermons, which in Oxford they then called conundrums. 1768 Beattie Minstr. i. lii, Ballad, jest, and riddle's quaint device. 1834 Medwin Angler in Wales II. 193 Some droll and merry device.


11. Something devised or fancifully invented for dramatic representation; ‘a mask played by private persons,’ or the like. arch. or Obs.

1588 Shakes. L.L.L. v. ii. 669 But I will forward with my deuice. 1590 —— Mids. N. v. i. 50 The riot of the tipsie Bachanals‥That is an old deuice, and it was plaid When I from Thebes came last. 1607 —— Timon i. ii. 155 You haue‥entertain'd me with mine owne deuice. 1635 Shirley Coronat. (T.) Masques and devices, welcome! 1789 Burney Hist. Mus. III. iv. 273 Baltazar de Beaujoyeux‥having published an account of his devises in a book. 1812 Byron Ch. Har. i. lxvii, Devices quaint, and frolics ever new.


12. Phrases. at device, to device [OF. à devis, à devise]: at or to one's liking or wish; perfectly, completely, entirely, certainly. at all device, in all respects, completely, entirely (cf. point-device) Obs.

1375 Barbour Bruce iv. 264 For mynerfe ay wes wont to serfe Hym fullely at all deuiss. Ibid. xi. 348 The king‥wes vicht and viss And richt vorthy at all deuiss. c1375 Sc. Leg. Saints, Clemens 628 Clement‥empleysit wele in godis serwice In althinge, at al dewise. c1385 Chaucer L.G.W. 1206 Dido (Tanner), Up on a courser‥Sit Eneas lik phebus to deuyse So was he freish arayed in his wise. a1420 Hoccleve De Reg. Princ. 404 He is a noble prechour at device. c1450 Mirour Saluacioun 4141 With thire Armures this knyght faght so wele at devis. c1475 Partenay 479 A litel his colour cam, vnto deuise. c1500 Melusine xxi. 126 He is moche fayre & wel shapen of membres, & hath a face to deuyse, except that one of his eyen is hyer sette than the other is. 1513 Douglas Æneis x. ix. 85 The Troiane prynce‥with his brand hym brytnys at devys, In maner of ane offerand sacryfys.