be left to (one's) own devices

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be left to (one's) own devices

To be left unsupervised or uncontrolled; to be allowed to do as one pleases. My job is really great: I know what I need to work on and am just left to my own devices. If left to their own devices, children will get into all sorts of mischief!
See also: device, left, own
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

left to your own devices

COMMON If someone is left to their own devices, they are left to do what they want, or to look after themselves without any help. If left to my own devices, I would eat a chocolate dessert every night. After tea we were left to our own devices, so we decided to take a walk in the neighbouring village. The millions of Americans who do not have health insurance are often left to their own devices when they become ill. Note: An old meaning of `device' was desire or will.
See also: device, left, own
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
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References in periodicals archive ?
Left to their own devices, many employees invest heavily in these shares.
The fact that the poor were left to their own devices in a flooding city by a government that did not think it had a responsibility to evacuate them is a direct consequence of this ideology.
Women held on remand that are taken to Winnipeg for their court hearings and then subsequently released are left to their own devices, as their belongings remain back at the prison.
Motorists were left to their own devices for more than 45 minutes before police eventually cleared the road
Left to their own devices, nasturtiums will reseed in mild climates and are likely to wander and show up in surprising places.
Although the EPA has adopted the 24 ppb figure as an "official reference dose," it's not yet an enforceable standard, and Solomon says states are left to their own devices. "Some are following the EPA lead, and others are following the California lead," she says.
As Jim Byo put it, we, as music teachers, are working to increase the possibility that "left to their own devices, they will practice in the manner most conducive to the development of the accomplished musician." When teachers structure lessons for success, students know what to expect and what is expected of them.
Poor e-mail management: When left to their own devices. Outlook users are notoriously inconsistent in managing their own data.
Left to their own devices, players produced cities like Alphaville.
Adolescence is not a process that has a predetermined end date--nor is there a guarantee in this culture that, left to their own devices, teenagers will learn the values and skills they'll need to become responsible adults--or even camp counselors.
The heavily structured school day does not offer many opportunities to address these problems, and when left to their own devices, youth can find themselves facing boredom at best and danger and risky behavior at worst in the hours after school.
Because the full-page images separating chapters lack any identifying captions, readers are left to their own devices to discover, for instance, that the image introducing chapter 6 is actually the interior of the bowl from the two-piece childbirth set shown in three alternate views nine pages later.
Some would still be wearing wigs and cloaks if left to their own devices." If it's up to Loyola Law, legal holdouts will be a vanishing breed.
Similarly, students who do use drugs and who either test positive or forego the test for fear of what it might reveal will be banned from after-school activities and thus left to their own devices.
Humans, left to their own devices, will build isolated fiefdoms, and pretty soon it is hard to pull the information together that you really need on an ongoing basis to manage the organization.