A contraption is a device that has a specific purpose and is often overly complicated. If your dad yells, “Get that contraption out of here!” He doesn’t appreciate the Rube Goldberg machine you made out of his golf clubs.

The word is English, all right, but how it got here is a mystery. It may be from a combination of contrive and adaptation. Contraptions — also called gadgets or gizmos — are devices people make for various purposes. Often, this word is used when someone isn't quite sure what something is, as in "What's that contraption?" Oh that’s just a dog-walking machine made of a roller skate, bacon, and four paper clips.

Definitions of contraption

n a device or control that is very useful for a particular job

appliance, contrivance, convenience, gadget, gismo, gizmo, widget
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appliances collectively
an appliance that allows an object (such as a ship's compass) to remain horizontal even as its support tips
a contrivance for injecting (e.g., water into the boiler of a steam engine or particles into an accelerator etc.)
mod con
modern convenience; the appliances and conveniences characteristic of a modern house
Type of:
an instrumentality invented for a particular purpose

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