A contrivance or an invention serving a particular purpose, especially a machine used to perform one or more relatively simple tasks. A technique or means. A plan or scheme, especially a malign one. A literary contrivance, such as parallelism or personification, used to achieve a particular effect. A decorative design, figure, or pattern, as one used in embroidery. See Synonyms at figure. A graphic symbol or motto, especially in heraldry. Archaic The act, state, or power of devising. leave to (one's) own devices To allow to do as one pleases: left the child to her own devices for an hour in the afternoon.