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

Definition of instrumentalist 

1 : a player on a musical instrument

2 : an exponent of instrumentalism

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from instrumentalist

instrumentalist adjective

Synonyms for instrumentalist


musician, player

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of instrumentalist in a Sentence

he excels as a conductor, a composer, and as an instrumentalist

Recent Examples on the Web

The 25-year-old singer, songwriter, instrumentalist, and producer from Toronto depended heavily on her intuition while curating her EP, Stone Woman, which released in February. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Charlotte Day Wilson Will Put You In Your Feelings," 26 June 2018 Since his debut in 1982, Kenny G has become one of the biggest selling instrumentalists ever, with global sales totaling more than 75 million records. Dave Brooks, Billboard, "Kenny G Signs With WME," 11 Jan. 2018 Longtime multi-instrumentalist Charles DeChant, who has played with Hall & Oates since 1976, is the act’s unsung hero. Ed Condran,, "Hall & Oates' Hoagie Nation returns to Festival Pier for its second year," 27 May 2018 The composer and multi-instrumentalist Elliott Sharp creates dramatically varying energies, some of them intense. New York Times, "A Musical Solstice Spectacle Sprawls Across New York," 22 June 2018 In recent years Davachi—who’s currently a doctoral student in musicology at UCLA—has increasingly collaborated with other instrumentalists. Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader, "Canadian sound artist Sarah Davachi uses electronics and site-specific acoustics to transform various instruments into something mesmerizing," 12 Apr. 2018 Marsalis sees jazz as being in the same place as it's always been — in the underground — though instrumentalists have lost, or abandoned, the ability to play cohesively within a song. Ben Brazil,, "Famed jazz musician Branford Marsalis heads to Irvine Barclay Theatre," 30 Mar. 2018 Fellow locals, dreamy instrumentalist HEAD and psychedelic duo GOSH!, will accompany Cherry at the show. Efrain Dorado, RedEye Chicago, "5 must-see concerts in Chicago this week: Mother Nature, Vesperteen, Paul Cherry," 12 Dec. 2017 That’s particularly true of those who practice the art of the griot — the hereditary caste of bards, instrumentalists and singers. John Adamian,, "Music Festivals And Concerts Not To Miss This Week," 18 June 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of instrumentalist

1814, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about instrumentalist

Share instrumentalist

Statistics for instrumentalist

Last Updated

10 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for instrumentalist

The first known use of instrumentalist was in 1814

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for instrumentalist



English Language Learners Definition of instrumentalist

: a person who plays a musical instrument

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on instrumentalist

What made you want to look up instrumentalist? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


evasion of direct action or statement

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Scrabble Words—A Quiz

  • scrabble-tiles-that-read-scrabble-quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!