instrument

noun
in·​stru·​ment | \ ˈin(t)-strə-mənt How to pronounce instrument (audio) \

Definition of instrument

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a device used to produce music also : a singing voice
2a : a means whereby something is achieved, performed, or furthered
b : one used by another as a means or aid : dupe, tool
3 : implement especially : one designed for precision work
4 : a formal legal document (such as a deed, bond, or agreement)
5a : a measuring device for determining the present value of a quantity under observation
b : an electrical or mechanical device used in navigating an airplane especially : such a device used as the sole means of navigating

instrument

verb
in·​stru·​ment | \ ˈin(t)-strə-ˌment How to pronounce instrument (audio) \
instrumented; instrumenting; instruments

Definition of instrument (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to address a legal instrument to
2 : to score for musical performance : orchestrate
3 : to equip with instruments especially for measuring and recording data

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Synonyms for instrument

Synonyms: Noun

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Choose the Right Synonym for instrument

Noun

implement, tool, instrument, appliance, utensil mean a relatively simple device for performing work. implement may apply to anything necessary to perform a task. crude stone implements farm implements tool suggests an implement adapted to facilitate a definite kind or stage of work and suggests the need of skill more strongly than implement. a carpenter's tools instrument suggests a device capable of delicate or precise work. the dentist's instruments appliance refers to a tool or instrument utilizing a power source and suggests portability or temporary attachment. household appliances utensil applies to a device used in domestic work or some routine unskilled activity. kitchen utensils

Noun

instrument, tool, and utensil mean a device for doing work. instrument is used for a device that can be used to do complicated work. The surgeon's instruments were sterilized. tool is used for a device used for a particular job and often suggests that a special skill is needed to use it. A carpenter's tools include hammers and saws. utensil is used for a simple device used in jobs around the house. They bought kitchen utensils.

Examples of instrument in a Sentence

Noun an instrument designed to measure the Earth's atmosphere The piano was his favorite musical instrument. Do you play any instruments?
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Joué Music Instrument Joué’s Music Instrument is a modular take on the MIDI controller, using a compact, backpack-friendly wooden and aluminum board that supports swappable pads to accommodate your instrument of choice. Time, "The 25 Best Products of CES 2020," 9 Jan. 2020 Such groups are not merely instruments to secure material goods. Samuel Goldman, National Review, "The Populist Wager," 9 Jan. 2020 The duo was charged with conspiracy to commit and uttering counterfeit instrument over $1,000. Zachary Halaschak, Washington Examiner, "Two arrested after winning lottery numbers glued to ticket," 7 Jan. 2020 Surviving the Holocaust These musical instruments were present during terrible atrocities. Taylor Kate Brown, SFChronicle.com, "Bay Briefing: Costly path to rebuilding a bridge," 6 Jan. 2020 The result was a rich and textured sound that gave his studio’s music an audible signature, which in reggae and dub carries just as much weight as the songwriting; the studio itself is considered an instrument. Brandon Wilner, New York Times, "40 Years Later, Reggae’s Heart Still Beats in the Bronx," 5 Jan. 2020 Lengthy, painstaking measurements from such an instrument in the late-1500s allowed Johannes Kepler to show that Mars revolved in an elliptical orbit around the sun. USA TODAY, "Butter Gritty, radish stink, goatnapping: News from around our 50 states," 3 Jan. 2020 While firearms were used in most of the killings, others involved sharp-edged and blunt instruments or simple bare hands. Jesse Garza, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Homicide, gun violence continued to plague city in 2019," 31 Dec. 2019 Officially dubbed photomicrography, the practice of taking pictures through lab-bench instruments has taken off in the past few decades. Popular Science, "Glimpse magnificent tiny wonders caught on video," 29 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Unlike earthquake prediction — which in terms of short-term prediction is currently not feasible and may never be feasible on a short timescale — volcano prediction is feasible and is common if volcanoes are instrumented. NBC News, "Volcano expert explains the science behind Kilauea's ongoing eruption," 23 May 2018 Bullerengue is a genre led mainly by elderly women, instrumented exclusively with artisan drums, and preserved through oral tradition. Marjua Estevez, Billboard, "How Afro-Colombian Artist Magín Díaz Went From Anonymity to Latin Grammy-Nominated at 95 Years Old," 7 Nov. 2017 But however well-instrumented, machines can't intuit. Bucky Mcmahon, Popular Mechanics, "What's it like to fly a plane into a hurricane like Irma? We climbed into a NOAA plane in 2016 and flew into the heart of Hurricane Matthew to find out.," 8 Sep. 2017 The plan is for the NFL, when the technology is ready, to offer mouth guards instrumented with such sensors to players to measure their impact response. Barry Wilner, The Christian Science Monitor, "NFL dedicates large portion of $100 million pledge to neuroscience," 29 Aug. 2017 The plan is for the NFL, when the technology is ready, to offer mouth guards instrumented with such sensors to players to measure their impact response. USA TODAY, "NFL making $40 million available for medical research," 29 Aug. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'instrument.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of instrument

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

circa 1700, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for instrument

Noun

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin instrumentum, from instruere to arrange, instruct

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Time Traveler for instrument

Time Traveler

The first known use of instrument was in the 14th century

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Statistics for instrument

Last Updated

13 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Instrument.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/instrument. Accessed 22 January 2020.

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More Definitions for instrument

instrument

noun
How to pronounce instrument (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of instrument

: a tool or device used for a particular purpose especially : a tool or device designed to do careful and exact work
: a device that measures something (such as temperature or distance)
: a device that is used to make music

instrument

noun
in·​stru·​ment | \ ˈin-strə-mənt How to pronounce instrument (audio) \

Kids Definition of instrument

1 : a tool or device for doing a particular kind of work a dentist's instruments
2 : a device used to produce music
3 : a way of getting something done Curiosity is an instrument of discovery.
4 : a legal document (as a deed)
5 : a device that measures something (as altitude or temperature)

instrument

noun
in·​stru·​ment | \ ˈin(t)-strə-mənt How to pronounce instrument (audio) \

Medical Definition of instrument

: any implement, tool, or utensil (as for surgery)

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instrument

noun
in·​stru·​ment

Legal Definition of instrument

1 : a means or implement by which something is achieved, performed, or furthered an instrument of crime
2 : a document (as a deed, will, bond, note, certificate of deposit, insurance policy, warrant, or writ) evidencing rights or duties especially of one party to another under the law a person is not liable on an instrument unless the person signed the instrumentUniform Commercial Code an indictment is a form of charging instrument specifically : negotiable instrument

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Comments on instrument

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