Device - devise

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Device and devise are two closely related words that can be confused.

  • The verb is 'to devise' - pronounced as though it were written with the letter 'z' (technically a voiced consonant), IPA: /dɪ 'vaɪz/ - see also devise (verb). To devise something is to 'invent it', or to produce a solution to a (usually mechanical) problem.
  • The related noun is device - pronounced as though it were written with the letter 's' (technically an unvoiced consonant), IPA: /dɪ 'vaɪs/. A device is usually a clever piece of equipment. In ordinary life, this is usually a small thing, but sometimes, when it is short for "a nuclear device", it is a euphemism for an atomic or hydrogen bomb. It can also mean some sort of sign, a badge of ownership, a logo or a slogan. In this sense it was originally a technical word in the language of heraldry.
  • There is also a place called Devizes, pronounced as it is spelled, to rhyme with "the sizes", IPA: /də 'vaɪ zɪz/. It is a town in Wiltshire, in England.

A similar distinction in spelling can be found with advice and advise.