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Antonym(s): Ghost, Natural, Living, Organic, and Mutable

A machine requires rigid moving parts[edit]

A machine must have rigid moving parts. Some things that are not machines: a hammer, a rope, an airfoil, a barometer, a fountain (sans pump), a loudspeaker (although that's on the border). An atlatl is not a machine either, although the combination of atlatl and spear might be considered a killing machine. Things containing hydrolics are only machines in that they contain rigid parts that the hydrolics move; otherwise they're fountains or irrigation systems or some such.

I understand wanting to call all electronic devices machines, but I don't think they are any more than a hydrolic irrigation system is a machine. In other words, electrons are more like fluids than anything else. Entirely electronic devices -- electronic devices with no moving parts -- are pretty much in their own catagory, they are electronic devices. Most electronic devices, cellphones, computers, etc. have rigid moving parts anyhow. Regardless, electronic devices are only machines in a laxer, and more modern sense. There is a physics definition of simple machine but that's really another definition.

The existing definition is just plain wrong. I propose it be changed back to:

  1. a mechanical device having rigid moving parts that produces an application of force, usually over a distance, usually to useful effect.

--kop 04:08, 22 April 2007 (UTC)


Nr. Definition Note
1 A mechanical or electrical device that performs or assists in the performance of human tasks, or is used for amusement (like a pinball machine). Current one.
2 A mechanical device having rigid moving parts that produces an application of force, usually over a distance, usually to useful effect. Proposed in the above section
3 Any device that transmits or modifies energy. Given by Wikipedia as the scientific one.
4 A device having rigid moving parts that perform or assist in performing some work. Given by Wikipedia as the one describing the common usage of the word, as opposed to scientific defition.

I wondered about the current definition, so I collected the above options to choose from. --Daniel Polansky 17:50, 14 March 2008 (UTC)

I like the second one. —Stephen 18:15, 14 March 2008 (UTC)
I disagree. In the English language, the word has verifiably been used with reference to devices with but a single part, devices with non-rigid parts, and even non-mechanical devices. Consider key policy number 4: "Entries should be written from a neutral point of view, representing all usages fairly and sympathetically." 01:31, 12 April 2008 (UTC)
That does not mean that the single defintion must cover all usages. We are permitted to write more than one definition if there is more than one common meaning. --EncycloPetey 01:45, 12 April 2008 (UTC)
<nod> For example, in rigging, a whip multiplies force in tension through a rope using a single sheave or a bullseye, up to 2x force - friction. Clearly a machine, and the application of force is not via rigid moving parts but through a flexible moving part. - Amgine/talk 02:58, 12 April 2008 (UTC)
Agreed. I was objecting to declaring the broader definition invalid. Rather than replacing a broad definition with a narrower one (or attempting a comprehensive set of narrow definitions), it would be better to indicate some usages are specific. 01:09, 17 April 2008 (UTC)
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The adjective sense is just an attributive use of the noun, so should be deleted, isn't it? --Dan Polansky 22:08, 17 November 2008 (UTC)

"Belonging to a machine" seems attributive to me: machine parts is no different from tractor parts, and tractor isn't an adjective. But I am not certain about "made by a machine" (e.g. machine goods). Equinox 23:15, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
Suggestive tests for [[adjectivity]]:
  • comparability (more, -er) [this one says it is not comparable]
  • gradability {very) [I don't think so]
  • usable as predicate (without "a" or "the") [I don't think so]]
I don't think this is likely to make it in either of the senses given. DCDuring TALK 00:26, 18 November 2008 (UTC)
I concur. Belonging to a machine argument by Equinox is unassailable. DCDuring is right about sense 2. Otherwise we might as well add "vending machine" while we are about it, as one can easily find "vending machine coffee". It is clearly attributive noun usage. -- ALGRIF talk 09:30, 18 November 2008 (UTC)
Deleted: striking. Equinox 19:25, 12 May 2009 (UTC)


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An outdated or simply "dated" term used in the US during the 30s and 40s is the word "machine" meaning motor vehicle or car/automobile. Difficult finding this reference anywhere. Ideas? Robert Bushee <email redacted>

Here’s one. —Stephen (Talk) 23:20, 14 December 2014 (UTC)
Not usable to cite the English word, but ماشین (masin) is "car" in Persian, borrowed from French at some stage. Equinox 22:25, 16 December 2014 (UTC)
In Russian маши́на (mašína) also means "car" but also "machine". Persian may have borrowed the term ماشین (mâšin) via Russian. --Anatoli T. (обсудить/вклад) 13:51, 19 December 2014 (UTC)
In German Maschine is often used to mean "airplane", but not "car" as far as I know. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 17:04, 19 December 2014 (UTC)