Denoting a way in which new devices may be attached to a system. Each different type of device added to a system will require a device driver. In many cases the user attaching a new type of device must regenerate the operating system and include the appropriate device driver. This is a very error-prone activity. In a plug-and-play system, the underlying operating system will detect the addition of a new type of device, and will automatically enable the appropriate device driver.
Originally the term was descriptive of the early life reliability of products: a product should work when delivered (plug it in and play).