Posted by TheFallen on February 03, 2003
In Reply to: "Left to my own devices" posted by Danny on February 03, 2003
: Anyone know about this phrase?
: To leave one to one's own devices?
Nowadays, "device" most commonly means a machine or piece of machinery designed to carry out one or more simple functions. It's the nominal form from the verb "to devise", which again these days means to plan or design.
However, a few hundred years ago, "to devise" used to have a less specific meaning, namely nothing more than to dream up or imagine - for sure, this is similar to its usual modern meaning, but doesn't carry with it the implication of fixed purpose or careful planning.
It's this latter slightly archaic meaning that's referred to in the idiom "left to one's own devices". If you are left to your own devices, you're being allowed to do as you like, to get up to whatever you please.