instrumental

adjective
in·​stru·​men·​tal | \ ˌin(t)-strə-ˈmen-tᵊl \

Definition of instrumental

1a : serving as a crucial means, agent, or tool was instrumental in organizing the strike
b : of, relating to, or done with an instrument or tool
2 : relating to, composed for, or performed on a musical instrument
3 : of, relating to, or being a grammatical case or form expressing means or agency
4 : of or relating to instrumentalism
5 : operant sense 3 instrumental learning instrumental conditioning

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Other Words from instrumental

instrumental noun
instrumentally \ ˌin(t)-​strə-​ˈmen-​tᵊl-​ē \ adverb

Did You Know?

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.

Examples of instrumental in a Sentence

They played instrumental music at the wedding. an instrumental version of a song

Recent Examples on the Web

Emerging fashion brands, such as Palomo Spain and Gypsy Sport, have been instrumental in loosening up gender norms. Christian Allaire, Vogue, "2018 Was the Year of the Male Red Carpet Peacock," 15 Dec. 2018 The Japanese vessel Chikyu was instrumental in helping researchers construct boreholes and mines some three miles deep. Sam Blum, Popular Mechanics, "Vast Ecosystem of Underground Organisms Holds More Life Than Earth's Oceans," 11 Dec. 2018 Some value instrumental support, a favor such as picking up milk. Elizabeth Bernstein, WSJ, "How Can You Help Someone Who Is Depressed?," 26 Nov. 2018 Seven steps were instrumental in making this happen. 1. Alexandra Brown, SELF, "7 Steps I Took to Afford Taking a Year Off to Travel the World," 21 Nov. 2018 Of course, food and wine are instrumental in acclimating to life in France, as are social norms such as the local cafe and market traditions. Jocelyn Mcclurg, USA TODAY, "Weekend picks for book lovers, including essays about Provence from Peter Mayle," 7 July 2018 The speedy winger, who proved instrumental in the win over Costa Rica, fell victim to a muscular injury and has missed Brazil's clashes with Serbia and Mexico. SI.com, "PHOTO: Douglas Costa Returns to Full Training For Brazil Ahead of Quarter-Final Clash With Belgium," 3 July 2018 SUBSCRIBE TODAY Restaurateur Ollie Gates, instrumental in the building's renovation, told KSHB that the incident damaged more than the building. Mark Davis, kansascity, "Crews clean up flooded Buck O’Neil Research and Education Center after vandals strike," 23 June 2018 Not only do worms have the potential to be instrumental in the plastic pollution crisis, they have also been seen as a tool in fighting the global food crisis. Erin Corbett, Fortune, "How Worms Can Help Recycle Plastic," 27 May 2018

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.

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First Known Use of instrumental

1616, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Last Updated

15 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for instrumental

The first known use of instrumental was in 1616

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More Definitions for instrumental

instrumental

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of instrumental

: very important in helping or causing something to happen or be done

music : written for or performed on musical instruments : not including singing

instrumental

adjective
in·​stru·​men·​tal | \ ˌin-strə-ˈmen-tᵊl \

Kids Definition of instrumental

1 : acting to get something done He was instrumental in organizing the club.
2 : relating to or done with an instrument instrumental navigation
3 : played on an instrument rather than sung instrumental music

instrumental

adjective
in·​stru·​men·​tal | \ ˌin(t)-strə-ˈment-ᵊl \

Medical Definition of instrumental

: operant instrumental learning instrumental conditioning

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More from Merriam-Webster on instrumental

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with instrumental

Spanish Central: Translation of instrumental

Nglish: Translation of instrumental for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of instrumental for Arabic Speakers

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