instrument

1 of 2

noun

in·​stru·​ment ˈin(t)-strə-mənt How to pronounce instrument (audio)
1
: a device used to produce music
also : a singing voice
2
: implement
especially : one designed for precision work
3
a
: 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
4
a
: a means whereby something is achieved, performed, or furthered
b
: one used by another as a means or aid : dupe, tool
5
: a formal legal document (such as a deed, bond, or agreement)

instrument

2 of 2

verb

in·​stru·​ment ˈin(t)-strə-ˌment How to pronounce instrument (audio)
instrumented; instrumenting; instruments

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
Choose the Right Synonym for instrument

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

Example Sentences

Noun an instrument designed to measure the Earth's atmosphere The piano was his favorite musical instrument. Do you play any instruments?
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Eslava won $5,000, and an additional $5,000 was donated to the school for instrument purchases. Matthew J. Palm, Orlando Sentinel, 18 Jan. 2023 Unlike other activities that require intense brain work, like chess or puzzles, playing an instrument recruits almost every part of the brain, including multi-sensory responses. Micah Ling, Outside Online, 17 Jan. 2023 And some airports simply require visual contact with the runway at all times, with no instrument approach procedure available. Les Abend, CNN, 17 Jan. 2023 The body shell is more rigid, and there's more sound insulation in the cowl, firewall, and instrument-panel areas. Dan Edmunds, Car and Driver, 17 Jan. 2023 The chatbot isn’t meant to be a psychological support tool, but an instrument to carry out citizen science research. Scistarter Team, Discover Magazine, 14 Jan. 2023 She will be accompanied by Europe’s period-instrument ensemble Il Pomo d’Oro, led for this evening by concertmaster Zefira Valova. Beth Woodcontributor, San Diego Union-Tribune, 14 Jan. 2023 After the meeting, Johnson and her co-conspirators put in a last-minute proposal to develop an instrument for NASA. Sarah Scoles, Scientific American, 13 Jan. 2023 The satellite’s third instrument studied the makeup of the stratosphere, including levels of water vapor, nitrogen dioxide, aerosols and ozone, a gas that protects life on Earth by absorbing ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Will Sullivan, Smithsonian Magazine, 11 Jan. 2023
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, 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, 7 Nov. 2017 But however well-instrumented, machines can't intuit. Bucky Mcmahon, Popular Mechanics, 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, 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, 29 Aug. 2017 See More

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.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

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

First Known Use

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

circa 1700, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near instrument

Cite this Entry

“Instrument.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/instrument. Accessed 28 Jan. 2023.

Kids Definition

instrument

noun
in·​stru·​ment
ˈin(t)-strə-mənt
1
: a device used to produce music
2
: a means of getting something done
curiosity is an instrument of discovery
3
: a tool or implement designed especially for precision work
a surgical instrument
4
: an official legal document (as a deed, bond, or agreement)
5
a
: a measuring device for finding out 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 only way of navigating

Medical Definition

instrument

noun
in·​stru·​ment ˈin(t)-strə-mənt How to pronounce instrument (audio)
: any implement, tool, or utensil (as for surgery)

Legal Definition

instrument

noun
in·​stru·​ment
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

More from Merriam-Webster on instrument

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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


Challenging Words You Should Know

  • hedgehog reading a book
  • Often used to describe “the march of time,” what does inexorable mean?
Name That Thing

You know what it looks like… but what is it called?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Solve today's spelling word game by finding as many words as you can with using just 7 letters. Longer words score more points.

Can you make 12 words with 7 letters?

PLAY