Use the word mechanism to describe a process that has been set up to accomplish a particular goal. If you’ve set up a method for dealing with your sister when she annoys you, then you have a mechanism in place for establishing peace with your sister.

The word mechanism came into the English language in the seventeenth century by way of the Latin word mechanismus, which traces back to the Greek word mekhane, meaning “device" or "means.” Mechanism still carries with it the meaning of “device” and can be used to describe a machine, but nowadays you are more likely to hear it used to describe a process for getting something done, such as "a mechanism for generating revenue" or "a crisis-resolution mechanism."

Definitions of mechanism
  1. noun
    device consisting of a piece of machinery; has moving parts that perform some function
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    action, action mechanism
    the operating part that transmits power to a mechanism
    a mechanism that puts something into automatic action
    automaton, golem, robot
    a mechanism that can move automatically
    axis, axis of rotation
    the center around which something rotates
    a machine part that carries something else
    cartridge ejector, ejector
    a mechanism in a firearm that ejects the empty shell case after firing
    cartridge extractor, cartridge remover, extractor
    a mechanism in a firearm that pulls an empty shell case out of the chamber and passes it to the ejector
    any mechanism of geared wheels that is driven by a coiled spring; resembles the works of a mechanical clock
    control, controller
    a mechanism that controls the operation of a machine
    cooling, cooling system
    a mechanism for keeping something cool
    delayed action
    a mechanism that automatically delays the release of a camera shutter for a fixed period of time so that the photographer can appear in the picture
    a mechanism by which force or power is transmitted in a machine
    drive line, drive line system
    mechanism that transmits power from the engine to the driving wheels of a motor vehicle
    a mechanism capable of returning to a safe state in case there is a failure or malfunction
    film advance
    a mechanism for advancing film in a camera or projector
    gear, gear mechanism
    a mechanism for transmitting motion for some specific purpose (as the steering gear of a vehicle)
    homing device
    the mechanism in a guided missile that guides it toward its objective
    hydraulic system
    a mechanism operated by the resistance offered or the pressure transmitted when a liquid is forced through a small opening or tube
    ignition, ignition system
    the mechanism that ignites the fuel in an internal-combustion engine
    a mechanism that detonates the charge of a gun
    mechanical device
    mechanism consisting of a device that works on mechanical principles
    a mechanism consisting of a metal honeycomb through which hot fluids circulate; heat is transferred from the fluid through the honeycomb to the airstream that is created either by the motion of the vehicle or by a fan
    rotating mechanism
    a mechanism that rotates
    steering linkage
    mechanism consisting of a system of rods and levers connected to the front wheels of a motor vehicle; the steering gear pushes it left or right which swivels the front wheels, causing the vehicle to turn
    steering mechanism, steering system
    a mechanism by which something is steered (especially a motor vehicle)
    tape drive, tape transport, transport
    a mechanism that transports magnetic tape across the read/write heads of a tape playback/recorder
    a revolving mechanism
    innards, workings, works
    the internal mechanism of a device
    air conditioner, air conditioning
    a system that keeps air cool and dry
    android, humanoid, mechanical man
    an automaton that resembles a human being
    blade, vane
    flat surface that rotates and pushes against air or water
    broadcaster, spreader
    a mechanical device for scattering something (seed or fertilizer or sand etc.) in all directions
    a mechanical device consisting of bars at either end of a vehicle to absorb shock and prevent serious damage
    bumper guard
    vertical bars attached to a bumper to prevent locking bumpers with another vehicle
    a rotating disk shaped to convert circular into linear motion
    carburetor, carburettor
    mixes air with gasoline vapor prior to explosion
    circle, round
    any circular or rotating mechanism
    a mechanical device that compresses gasses
    coolant system
    a cooling system that uses a fluid to transfer heat from one place to another
    cooling tower
    a cooling system used in industry to cool hot water (by partial evaporation) before reusing it as a coolant
    mechanical device used in printing; holds the copy for the compositor
    coupler, coupling
    a mechanical device that serves to connect the ends of adjacent objects
    cruise control
    control mechanism for keeping an automobile at a set speed
    crimper, curler, hair curler, roller
    a mechanical device consisting of a cylindrical tube around which the hair is wound to curl it
    the control on a radio or television set that is used for tuning
    diaphragm, stop
    a mechanical device in a camera that controls size of aperture of the lens
    a mechanical device used for dicing food
    disk controller
    (computer science) a circuit or chip that translates commands into a form that can control a hard disk drive
    electromechanical device
    a mechanical device that is operated by electricity
    mechanical device that regulates movement
    evaporative cooler
    a cooling system that cools by evaporation
    Ferris wheel
    a vertical rotating mechanism consisting of a large wheel with suspended seats that remain upright as the wheel rotates; provides a ride at an amusement park
    first, first gear, low, low gear
    the lowest forward gear ratio in the gear box of a motor vehicle; used to start a car moving
    fusee, fusee drive
    a spirally grooved spindle in a clock that counteracts the diminishing power of the uncoiling mainspring
    a set of gears
    gear lever, gearshift, gearstick, shifter
    a mechanical device for engaging and disengaging gears
    governor, regulator
    a control that maintains a steady speed in a machine (as by controlling the supply of fuel)
    a mechanical device for gripping an object
    firing mechanism, gunlock
    the action that ignites the charge in a firearm
    gyro, gyroscope
    rotating mechanism in the form of a universally mounted spinning wheel that offers resistance to turns in any direction
    control consisting of a wheel whose rim serves as the handle by which a part is operated
    steering mechanism for a vessel; a mechanical device by which a vessel is steered
    high, high gear
    a forward gear with a gear ratio that gives the greatest vehicle velocity for a given engine speed
    claw, hook
    a mechanical device that is curved or bent to suspend or hold or pull something
    hydraulic transmission, hydraulic transmission system
    a transmission that depends on a hydraulic system
    a manual control consisting of a vertical handle that can move freely in two directions; used as an input device to computers or to devices controlled by computers
    machine, simple machine
    a device for overcoming resistance at one point by applying force at some other point
    the driving and regulating parts of a mechanism (as of a watch or clock)
    mechanical device used to copy a figure or plan on a different scale
    a gear position that acts as a parking brake
    piano action
    action consisting of a system of levers that move a felt hammer to strike the strings when a key is depressed
    piston, plunger
    mechanical device that has a plunging or thrusting motion
    pin, pivot
    axis consisting of a short shaft that supports something that turns
    power steering, power-assisted steering
    automotive steering where engineer power amplifies the torque applied to the steering wheel
    propeller, propellor
    a mechanical device that rotates to push against air or water
    a mechanical device that moves fluid or gas by pressure or suction
    pump action, slide action
    action mechanism in a modern rifle or shotgun; a back and forward motion of a sliding lever ejects the empty shell case and cocks the firearm and loads a new round
    rachet, ratch, ratchet
    mechanical device consisting of a toothed wheel or rack engaged with a pawl that permits it to move in only one direction
    auto-changer, changer, record changer
    an automatic mechanical device on a record player that causes new records to be played without manual intervention
    refrigeration system
    a cooling system for chilling or freezing (usually for preservative purposes)
    any of various controls or devices for regulating or controlling fluid flow, pressure, temperature, etc.
    reverse, reverse gear
    the gears by which the motion of a machine can be reversed
    a mechanical device that you ride for amusement or excitement
    positioner, rotary actuator
    (computer science) the actuator that moves a read/write head to the proper data track
    rotating mechanism consisting of an assembly of rotating airfoils
    rotor head, rotor shaft
    the axis around which the major rotor of a helicopter turns
    (nautical) steering mechanism consisting of a hinged vertical plate mounted at the stern of a vessel
    second, second gear
    the gear that has the second lowest forward gear ratio in the gear box of a motor vehicle
    a mechanical device that sows grass seed or grain evenly over the ground
    a mechanical device on a camera that opens and closes to control the time of a photographic exposure
    binding, ski binding
    one of a pair of mechanical devices that are attached to a ski and that will grip a ski boot; the bindings should release in case of a fall
    a mechanical device for joining two pieces of paper or film or magnetic tape
    an orthopedic mechanical device used to immobilize and protect a part of the body (as a broken leg)
    mechanical device that attaches to a garden hose for watering lawn or garden
    stator, stator coil
    mechanical device consisting of the stationary part of a motor or generator in or around which the rotor revolves
    steering gear
    a gear that couples the steering wheel to the steering linkage of a motor vehicle
    a mechanical device for stoking a furnace
    a mechanical device used to make something larger (as shoes or gloves) by stretching it
    the part of a mechanical device that strikes something
    supply chamber
    a mechanical device for holding something and supplying it as needed
    mechanical device used as a plaything to support someone swinging back and forth
    electric switch, electrical switch, switch
    control consisting of a mechanical or electrical or electronic device for making or breaking or changing the connections in a circuit
    third, third gear
    the third from the lowest forward ratio gear in the gear box of a motor vehicle
    pickup, pickup arm, tone arm
    mechanical device consisting of a light balanced arm that carries the cartridge
    transmission, transmission system
    the gears that transmit power from an automobile engine via the driveshaft to the live axle
    a device to hurl clay pigeons into the air for trapshooters
    typewriter carriage
    a carriage for carrying a sheet of paper
    control consisting of a mechanical device for controlling the flow of a fluid
    mechanical device that produces vibratory motion; used for massage
    a mechanical device that vibrates
    voting machine
    a mechanical device for recording and counting votes mechanically
    vane, weather vane, weathervane, wind vane
    mechanical device attached to an elevated structure; rotates freely to show the direction of the wind
    mechanical device including an arrangement of wheel in a machine (especially a train of gears)
    mechanical device around which something can be wound
    key, winder
    mechanical device used to wind another device that is driven by a spring (as a clock)
    windscreen wiper, windshield wiper, wiper, wiper blade
    a mechanical device that cleans the windshield
    a disengaged position, as of gears
    type of:
    an instrumentality invented for a particular purpose
  2. noun
    a natural object resembling a machine in structure or function
    “the mechanism of the ear”
    “the mechanism of infection”
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    anything serving to maintain separation by obstructing vision or access
    transmission mechanism
    any mechanism whereby an infectious agent is spread from a reservoir to a human being
    biological clock
    an innate mechanism in living organisms that controls the periodicity of many physiological functions
    airborne transmission
    a transmission mechanism in the which the infectious agent is spread as an aerosol and usually enters a person through the respiratory tract
    a submerged (or partly submerged) ridge in a river or along a shore
    blood-brain barrier
    a mechanism that creates a barrier between brain tissues and circulating blood; serves to protect the central nervous system
    any barrier to communication or vision
    direct transmission
    a transmission mechanism in which the infectious agent is transferred directly into the body via touching or biting or kissing or sexual intercourse or by droplets entering the eye or nose or mouth
    indirect transmission
    a transmission mechanism in which the infectious agent is transferred to the person by a fomite of vector
    type of:
    natural object
    an object occurring naturally; not made by man
  3. noun
    the technical aspects of doing something
    “a mechanism of social control”
    mechanisms of communication”
    synonyms: mechanics
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    type of:
    carrying into action, carrying out, execution, performance
    the act of performing; of doing something successfully; using knowledge as distinguished from merely possessing it
  4. noun
    the atomic process that occurs during a chemical reaction
    “he determined unique mechanisms for the photochemical reactions”
    synonyms: chemical mechanism
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    biochemical mechanism
    a chemical mechanism involved in vital processes occurring in living organisms
    type of:
    chemical action, chemical change, chemical process
    (chemistry) any process determined by the atomic and molecular composition and structure of the substances involved
  5. noun
    (philosophy) the philosophical theory that all phenomena can be explained in terms of physical or biological causes
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    type of:
    philosophical doctrine, philosophical theory
    a doctrine accepted by adherents to a philosophy
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