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Recorded since the 1560s. From the English apply +‎ -ance.


  • IPA(key): /əˈplaɪəns/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -aɪəns


appliance (countable and uncountable, plural appliances)

  1. An implement, an instrument or apparatus designed (or at least used) as a means to a specific end, especially:
    • c. 1596–1599, William Shakespeare, “The Second Part of Henry the Fourth, []”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act III, scene i]:
      Canst thou, O partial sleep, give thy repose
      To the wet sea-boy in an hour so rude;
      And in the calmest and most stillest night,
      With all appliances and means to boot,
      Deny it to a king?
    • 1861, George Eliot, Silas Marner, Part 2, Chapter 16,[1]
      [] Oh, the pipe! won’t you have it lit again, father?” said Eppie, lifting that medicinal appliance from the ground.
    • 1939, John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, New York: Viking, Chapter 3, p. 20,[2]
      [] sleeping life waiting to be spread and dispersed, every seed armed with an appliance of dispersal, twisting darts and parachutes for the wind, little spears and balls of tiny thorns, and all waiting for animals and for the wind, for a man’s trouser cuff or the hem of a woman’s skirt []
    1. A non-manual apparatus or device, powered electrically or by another small motor, used in homes to perform domestic functions (household appliance) and/or in offices.
      • 1978, Poly Styrene (lyrics and music), “Art-I-Ficial”, in Germ Free Adolescents, performed by X-Ray Spex:
        I know I'm artificial / But don't put the blame on me / I was reared with appliances / In a consumer society
      Many house fires are caused by faulty appliances, such as refrigerators, washing machines and dryers.
    2. An attachment, a piece of equipment to adapt another tool or machine to a specific purpose.
  2. (obsolete) The act of applying.
    Synonym: application
    • 1658, Elias Ashmole, The Way to Bliss, London: Nath. Brook, Book 2, Chapter 2 “Of Health,” p. 75,[3]
      [] there be three things, and every one full of under-branches belonging to this Art and way of Healing: The first is knowledge of the Diseases: the second is the Remedies against them: and the third of the appliance of Remedies; All which should be traversed in this Discourse.
    • 1849, Currer Bell [pseudonym; Charlotte Brontë], chapter 16, in Shirley. A Tale. [], volume (please specify |volume=I, II, or III), London: Smith, Elder and Co., [], OCLC 84390265:
      The attention to fashion, the tasteful appliance of ornament in each portion of her dress, were quite in place with her.
  3. (obsolete) A means of eliminating or counteracting something undesirable, especially an illness.
    Synonyms: cure, medicine, remedy
  4. (obsolete, rare) Willing service, willingness to act as someone wishes.
    Synonym: compliance


Hyponyms of appliance


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


  • Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, Springfield, Massachusetts, G.&C. Merriam Co., 1967



Unadapted borrowing from English appliance.


  • IPA(key): /aˈplajans/, [aˈpla.jãns]


appliance m (plural appliances)

  1. (rare) appliance
    Synonym: electrodoméstico

Usage notes[edit]

According to Royal Spanish Academy (RAE) prescriptions, unadapted foreign words should be written in italics in a text printed in roman type, and vice versa, and in quotation marks in a manuscript text or when italics are not available. In practice, this RAE prescription is not always followed.