Definition of instrumental
1a : serving as a crucial means, agent, or tool was instrumental in organizing the strikeb : 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 3 instrumental learning instrumental conditioning
instrumentallyplay \ˌin(t)-strə-ˈmen-təl-ē\ adverb
Examples of instrumental in a Sentence
They played instrumental music at the wedding.
an instrumental version of a song
Recent Examples of instrumental from the Web
The sound of my doorbell starts off high, then the pitch mellows out, and the whole effect mimics an instrumental interpretation of rain finally finding a steady pace at which to fall.
However, the backline returned intact, and has been instrumental in New Trier surrendering just nine goals in 26 games.
Central bank quantitative easing remains instrumental in supporting risk appetite and artificially anchoring credit spreads, any move away from which could see spreads correct wider and positive correlation reassert itself with a rising oil price.
Meanwhile, the euroskeptic U.K. Independence Party, which was instrumental in pushing Britain toward the EU exit, is in a meltdown.
The three people who read the names of the fallen from World War I to Afghanistan-Iraq were instrumental in getting the Service Memorial built:
Under any name, his all-instrumental trio stands out, both for its ambition and for its absence of a bass —
Along with several others, the Alexanders, of Madison, were instrumental in the founding of Huntsville's Greengate School, a learning institution dedicated to educating and supporting dyslexic students.
Darwin’s finches, those little birds in the Galápagos with beaks of different sizes and shapes, were instrumental in the development of the theory of evolution.
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.
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.
First Known Use of instrumental
INSTRUMENTAL Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of instrumental for English Language Learners
: very important in helping or causing something to happen or be done
music : written for or performed on musical instruments : not including singing
INSTRUMENTAL Defined for Kids
Definition of instrumental for Students
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
Seen and Heard
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