Definition of instrumental
- was instrumental in organizing the strike
- instrumental learning
- instrumental conditioning
They played instrumental music at the wedding.
an instrumental version of a song
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'instrumental.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
An instrument is a tool, something used to construct. It's often a tool for making music. A musical saw happens to be a carpenter's tool that can be played with a violin bow (though you probably wouldn't want to play a wrench or a pair of pliers). The musical meanings of instrumental, as in "It starts with an instrumental piece" or "a jazz instrumental", are common. But the meanings "helpful", "useful", and "essential", as in "He was instrumental in getting my book published", are just as common.
: very important in helping or causing something to happen or be done
music : written for or performed on musical instruments : not including singing
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