instrument

noun
in·​stru·​ment | \ˈin(t)-strə-mənt \

Definition of instrument 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a device used to produce music also : a singing voice

2a : a means whereby something is achieved, performed, or furthered

b : one used by another as a means or aid : dupe, tool

3 : implement especially : one designed for precision work

4 : a formal legal document (such as a deed, bond, or agreement)

5a : a measuring device for determining the present value of a quantity under observation

b : an electrical or mechanical device used in navigating an airplane especially : such a device used as the sole means of navigating

instrument

verb
in·​stru·​ment | \ˈin(t)-strə-ˌment \
instrumented; instrumenting; instruments

Definition of instrument (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to address a legal instrument to

2 : to score for musical performance : orchestrate

3 : to equip with instruments especially for measuring and recording data

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Choose the Right Synonym for instrument

Noun

implement, tool, instrument, appliance, utensil mean a relatively simple device for performing work. implement may apply to anything necessary to perform a task. crude stone implements farm implements tool suggests an implement adapted to facilitate a definite kind or stage of work and suggests the need of skill more strongly than implement. a carpenter's tools instrument suggests a device capable of delicate or precise work. the dentist's instruments appliance refers to a tool or instrument utilizing a power source and suggests portability or temporary attachment. household appliances utensil applies to a device used in domestic work or some routine unskilled activity. kitchen utensils

Noun

instrument, tool, and utensil mean a device for doing work. instrument is used for a device that can be used to do complicated work. The surgeon's instruments were sterilized. tool is used for a device used for a particular job and often suggests that a special skill is needed to use it. A carpenter's tools include hammers and saws. utensil is used for a simple device used in jobs around the house. They bought kitchen utensils.

Examples of instrument in a Sentence

Noun

an instrument designed to measure the Earth's atmosphere The piano was his favorite musical instrument. Do you play any instruments?
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Black Octopus has steep discounts on sample packs, Kontakt instruments, and plug-in presets, with some as much as 60 percent off. Dani Deahl, The Verge, "The best Black Friday deals for DJs and electronic musicians," 21 Nov. 2018 Not all sound therapists use the same instruments, either. Nicole Dellert, Allure, "I Tried a Sound Bath — Here's What This Meditative Practice Is Really Like," 24 Oct. 2018 During the war, Singer produced components for the Sperry T-1 bomb sight, B-29 bomber gunfire control computers, directional gyro and artificial horizon instruments, and automatic pilot parts. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "When the Singer Sewing Machine Company Built the Best .45 Pistol Ever Made," 21 Sep. 2018 His store was jammed to the rafters with antique signs, musical instruments, and highway ephemera, none of which was for sale. Ashlea Halpern, Condé Nast Traveler, "Long Live Route 66," 19 July 2018 The cast keeps up the energy with clever use of the multilevel set, percussive instruments, and audience interaction in the aisles. Marissa Oberlander, Chicago Reader, "Chicago Shakespeare’s Peter Pan is a soaring delight for both kids and adults," 11 July 2018 The New York Times clearly thinks of its famous election needle, the speedometer-like readout that predicts the results of the midterm elections as vote totals trickle in, as a scientific instrument. Dara Lind, Vox, "America’s love-hate relationship with the New York Times election needle, explained," 6 Nov. 2018 Usually your doctor will use an instrument like a scalpel to remove the actual mole and surrounding tissue if necessary, Dr. Goldenberg says. Korin Miller, SELF, "What You Can Expect Before, During, and After Mole Removal," 28 July 2018 For generations of Afro-Boricua workers and families, bomba has remained central to community, with the drum acting as an instrument of political power, entertainment and spiritual release. New York Times, "Bomba: The Enduring Anthem of Puerto Rico," 7 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Unlike earthquake prediction — which in terms of short-term prediction is currently not feasible and may never be feasible on a short timescale — volcano prediction is feasible and is common if volcanoes are instrumented. NBC News, "Volcano expert explains the science behind Kilauea's ongoing eruption," 23 May 2018 Bullerengue is a genre led mainly by elderly women, instrumented exclusively with artisan drums, and preserved through oral tradition. Marjua Estevez, Billboard, "How Afro-Colombian Artist Magín Díaz Went From Anonymity to Latin Grammy-Nominated at 95 Years Old," 7 Nov. 2017 But however well-instrumented, machines can't intuit. Bucky Mcmahon, Popular Mechanics, "What's it like to fly a plane into a hurricane like Irma? We climbed into a NOAA plane in 2016 and flew into the heart of Hurricane Matthew to find out.," 8 Sep. 2017 The plan is for the NFL, when the technology is ready, to offer mouth guards instrumented with such sensors to players to measure their impact response. Barry Wilner, The Christian Science Monitor, "NFL dedicates large portion of $100 million pledge to neuroscience," 29 Aug. 2017 The plan is for the NFL, when the technology is ready, to offer mouth guards instrumented with such sensors to players to measure their impact response. USA TODAY, "NFL making $40 million available for medical research," 29 Aug. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'instrument.' 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 instrument

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

circa 1700, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for instrument

Noun

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin instrumentum, from instruere to arrange, instruct

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Last Updated

1 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for instrument

The first known use of instrument was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for instrument

instrument

noun

English Language Learners Definition of instrument

: a tool or device used for a particular purpose; especially : a tool or device designed to do careful and exact work

: a device that measures something (such as temperature or distance)

: a device that is used to make music

instrument

noun
in·​stru·​ment | \ˈin-strə-mənt \

Kids Definition of instrument

1 : a tool or device for doing a particular kind of work a dentist's instruments

2 : a device used to produce music

3 : a way of getting something done Curiosity is an instrument of discovery.

4 : a legal document (as a deed)

5 : a device that measures something (as altitude or temperature)

instrument

noun
in·​stru·​ment | \ˈin(t)-strə-mənt \

Medical Definition of instrument 

: any implement, tool, or utensil (as for surgery)

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instrument

noun
in·​stru·​ment

Legal Definition of instrument 

1 : a means or implement by which something is achieved, performed, or furthered an instrument of crime

2 : a document (as a deed, will, bond, note, certificate of deposit, insurance policy, warrant, or writ) evidencing rights or duties especially of one party to another under the law a person is not liable on an instrument unless the person signed the instrumentUniform Commercial Code an indictment is a form of charging instrument specifically : negotiable instrument

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