instrumental

adjective

in·​stru·​men·​tal ˌin(t)-strə-ˈmen-tᵊl How to pronounce instrumental (audio)
1
a
: 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
instrumental noun
instrumentally 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 The show’s executive producer, Kayo Washio, who serves as Wowow’s head of U.S. operations and chief producer for international co-productions, acquisitions and distribution, was instrumental in bringing the show to Japan and supplying an array of on-the-ground relationships and services. Patrick Brzeski, The Hollywood Reporter, 17 July 2024 Prior to spending nearly three decades with Lamborghini, Reggiani honed his prowess in mechanical engineering with Maserati and, later, was instrumental in the resurrection of Bugatti. Viju Mathew, Robb Report, 15 July 2024 The Biden administration has been instrumental in reaching this moment. Stefano Pozzebon, CNN, 14 July 2024 The class includes Eddie Curry, who worked at Chicago Public Schools and was instrumental in making 16-inch softball a lettered sport in CPS high schools. Justin Kaufmann, Axios, 14 July 2024 See all Example Sentences for instrumental 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'instrumental.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1616, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of instrumental was in 1616

Dictionary Entries Near instrumental

Cite this Entry

“Instrumental.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/instrumental. Accessed 21 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

instrumental

adjective
in·​stru·​men·​tal ˌin(t)-strə-ˈment-ᵊl How to pronounce instrumental (audio)
1
a
: acting as an instrument or means
was instrumental in organizing the club
b
: of, relating to, or done with an instrument
instrumental error
2
: relating to, composed for, or performed on a musical instrument
an unusual instrumental arrangement
instrumentally adverb

Medical Definition

instrumental

adjective
in·​stru·​men·​tal ˌin(t)-strə-ˈment-ᵊl How to pronounce instrumental (audio)
: operant
instrumental learning
instrumental conditioning
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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