Device vs. Devise? How Do You Use These When Writing?

device vs devise

The terms “device” and “devise” have identical pronunciations. And their spellings are so similar that it’s not that difficult to mistake one word for another at first glance. Give either of the terms a gander for an additional second or two, however, and you shall realize the apparent disparity between the two – both in their spellings and the contexts.

Despite how similar they appear and spell, the words “device” and “devise” are two completely different words. “Device” is a noun and must be used to refer to a piece of equipment or gadget. The term “devise” is a verb and should, therefore, be used to denote a “plan-based” action.

As mentioned above, “devise” and “devise” seem quite similar. If you have any doubts concerning how vastly different the two are from each other, how they can be used in varied writing scenarios, and lots more, keep reading.

device word in the dictionary

“Device” – Definition 

The word “device” is a noun that denotes a gadget, object, tool, or any equipment “devised” for a particular purpose. In modern usage of the word, “device” typically refers to smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other personal electronics.

The gadget that the term “device” denotes is primarily used at an individual or non-industrial level. The noun is seldom used to indicate commercial equipment or industrial machinery.

“Devise” – Definition 

The verb “devise” denotes “to plan, form, create or invent” – usually in one’s mind or thoughts. Not to mention, one must have a sane and stable mind to “devise”. Alternate terms or synonyms for the verb are “imagine”, “conceive”, etc.

In legal terms, “devise” means “to give (real estate, for example) by will”. The verb could also denote “the act of transferring lands or similar properties”. Non-lawyers or people who are not related to the legal profession invariably have zero familiarity with the legal meaning or do not use the term for this alternate meaning.

Generally speaking, “devise” is only conceived as a verb.

Using the Word “Device” in Writings 

Though “device” could mean any tool or gadget, it is invariably used to denote “electronic items”. For example:

  • When flying, passengers are instructed to turn off their electronic devices or put them in airplane mode.

The noun can also be used to denote a work of literature, however. For example: 

  • The author employed the figure of speech as a literary device.

The term is also used in the well-known idiom, “leave someone to their own devices” or “leave to own devices”. The expression means “to let someone do what they can or want to do without being helped or controlled by anybody”. For example:

  • She was left to her own devices to see how far she could proceed with the project without others’ inputs.

The above expression could be rooted in the fact that the term “device” was used to denote “scheme”. 

The sentences above indicate that “device” is not always a tangible thing. In other words, the word could also be a method or technique to attain a particular effect. Here is one more sentence demonstrating that: 

  • In his poem, Lewis used the portmanteau as a literary device.

Regardless, if you’re using “device” in a sentence, it is always a noun.

Using the Term “Devise” in Writings 

As mentioned above, the term “devise” denotes an “implementation” or “development” of ideas or plans. The verb can be used in sentences as a “past tense verb” or an “infinite verb”. 

Here are a few sentences illustrating that:

  • She devised a technique to procure more cookies from her mother. (Past tense)
  • After discussing the issues, the city leaders devised a stratagem for the betterment of the neighborhoods. (Past tense)
  • They put in genuine efforts to devise a method or plan that brought down the students’ homework load. (Infinitive)
  • The colleagues came together to devise techniques that help remedy that issue. (Infinitive)

Discerning “Device” from “Devise” 

Both “device” and “devise” have their roots in “deviser”, the Old French term. But that is perhaps the only thing that brings the two terms close, besides their similar spellings and pronunciations. In pretty much every other aspect, the terms are poles apart from each other. 

The fact that “device” is a noun and “devise” is a verb is well-established, and knowing this fact can help you ascertain which term to use in specific writing scenarios. 

However, it’s not rare to see people using “devise” instead of “device” and vice versa. Even relatively established sites known for putting out lists of sentences for a particular word could be seen using “devise” in contexts where “device” should have been used. 

If you’re having a hard time remembering “device” is a noun, note down the word “vice”, which is a part of “device”. “Vice” is a noun by itself, and remembering that should help conclude that “device” is a noun as well. Knowing these distinct attributes about “device” would help you not mistake it for “devise” or vice versa. 

You may also focus on the letter “c” in “device” and correspond it with “c” used in the word “cell phone”, which apparently is also a “device”. 

On a related note, here are a couple of sentences that use the two words “device” and “devise” in similar contexts: 

  • The iPhone 12 Pro is the new electronic device I bought yesterday.
  • She devised a plan to buy the iPhone 12 Pro by trading in her existing iPhone.

In case the above mnemonic tricks do not work as expected, or you need another way to remember the discrepancy between the two, just remember the difference between “advice” and “advise” and try to recollect the same when you’re stuck between “device” and “devise”.

Example Sentences with the Word “Device” 

devise word sign thought bubble

Here is a list of sentences that use the word “device”:

  • The smartphone is arguably the most useful and popular device ever made.
  • Kindly stow all your electronic devices before the take-off.
  • If the device is in good working condition, expect a fairly decent trade-in discount on it.
  • The device is used to track live locations.
  • Most people have some form of a handheld device with a GPS and an Internet connection.
  • To detect currents, push the device into the antenna circuit.
  • She turned the communications device on by touching the buttons on its flat control panel.
  • The device’s origins and the inspiration behind it are quite fascinating.
  • It is not precisely clear when the device was first used.
  • Dry powder-inhaling devices usually have the medicine either in the disks or within the inhalers themselves.
  • He dropped his handheld device, causing its screen to develop spiderweb-like cracks.
  • Tim made millions of dollars after inventing the device that helped people eat their tacos without creating a mess.

Example Sentences with the Word “Devise” 

The following is a relatively long list of sentences that employ the word “devise”:

  • The various disadvantages and the total time it takes to get rolling with the method have prompted the team to devise alternate processes.
  • The parents devised a classification system so that their kids could manage their allowances.
  • We must devise some solutions to address the issues.
  • Tom devised a strategy to rescue Mark from the well.
  • She thought the scheme she devised would help her walk out of poverty, but it didn’t turn out that way.
  • They devised the technique to convert sunlight into electricity.
  • Mr. Murray help devised the large American automakers’ bailout plans.
  • The meeting’s purpose is to devise a marketing strategy that provides more visibility and recognition to our products.
  • The quiz was devised to come up with a more customized diet plan.
  • Only if someone devises a more efficient method to prevent such wastage of food.  
  • The chefs were asked to devise a six-course menu that incorporated all the special ingredients.
  • Devise a way that preserves his insights while ensuring he doesn’t fall prey to the vicious regresses.
  • These publications shall help with devising strategies and techniques for quality improvement.
  • Our goal is devising tax credits, abatements, and refunds so that the non-profit organizations benefit considerably.
  • Devising a checklist and asking line managers to do them all is not how it works.

Example Sentences with Both “Device” and “Devise” 

The following are example sentences that use both “devise” and “devise” in the same context, proving the point that “a device is a thing that is devised”: 

  • She devised a device that could quickly and cleanly slice a pizza.
  • I prefer using this music app on my device as it lets me devise my playlists.
  • Multiple efforts have been put in to devise cotton-picking devices, but none of them have reached fruition.
  • The newest project entailed devising a super-efficient water filtration device.
  • The student devised multiple mnemonic devices for remembering things during an exam.


devise an idea graphic art light bulb

If you know the meanings of the two terms, the kind of words they are, and/or the contexts in which they are typically used, you will never get confused between the two. And that is precisely what this article tries to achieve by throwing as much light as possible on the two non-identical terms.

Shawn Manaher

Shawn Manaher is the founder and CEO of The Content Authority. He's one part content manager, one part writing ninja organizer, and two parts leader of top content creators. You don't even want to know what he calls pancakes.

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