What does instrument mean?

Definitions for instrument
ˈɪn strə məntin·stru·ment

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word instrument.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. instrumentnoun

    a device that requires skill for proper use

  2. instrument, toolnoun

    the means whereby some act is accomplished

    "my greed was the instrument of my destruction"; "science has given us new tools to fight disease"

  3. instrument, pawn, cat's-pawnoun

    a person used by another to gain an end

  4. legal document, legal instrument, official document, instrumentnoun

    (law) a document that states some contractual relationship or grants some right

  5. instrumental role, instrumentnoun

    the semantic role of the entity (usually inanimate) that the agent uses to perform an action or start a process

  6. musical instrument, instrumentverb

    any of various devices or contrivances that can be used to produce musical tones or sounds

  7. instrumentverb

    equip with instruments for measuring, recording, or controlling

  8. instrument, instrumentateverb

    write an instrumental score for

  9. instrumentverb

    address a legal document to


  1. Instrumentnoun

    One who, or that which, is made a means, or is caused to serve a purpose; a medium, means, or agent; as, their army was primarily an instrument of oppression.

  2. Instrumentverb

    To furnish or equip with instruments; to attach instruments to; as, the fighter planes were heavily instrumented; the patient was instrumented to monitor him remotely.


  1. instrumentnoun

    A device used to produce music.

    The violinist was a master of her instrument.

  2. instrumentnoun

    A measuring or displaying device.

    The instrument detected an increase in radioactivity.

  3. instrumentnoun

    A tool, implement.

    The dentist set down his tray of instruments.

  4. instrumentnoun

    A legal document, such as a contract, deed, trust, mortgage, power, indenture, or will.

  5. instrumentnoun

    A person used as a mere tool for achieving a goal.

  6. instrumentverb

    To apply measuring devices.

  7. instrumentverb

    To devise, conceive, cook up, plan.

  8. instrumentverb

    To perform upon an instrument; to prepare for an instrument.

    a sonata instrumented for orchestra

  9. Etymology: From instrumentum. suffix -mentum.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary


    Etymology: instrument, Fr. instrumentum, Lat.

    If he smite him with an instrument of iron, so that he die, he is a murderer. Num. xxxv. 16.

    What artificial frame, what instrument,
    Did one superior genius e'er invent;
    Which to the muscles is preferr'd. Richard Blackmore, on Creation.

    Box is a wood useful for turners and instrument makers. John Mortimer.

    He that striketh an instrument with skill, may cause notwithstanding a very pleasant sound, if the string whereon he striketh chance to be capable of harmony. Richard Hooker, b. i.

    She taketh most delight
    In musick, instruments and poetry. William Shakespeare.

    In solitary groves he makes his moan,
    Nor, mix'd in mirth, in youthful pleasure shares,
    But sighs when songs and instruments he hears. Dryden.

    He called Edna his wife, and took paper, and did write an instrument of covenants, and sealed it. Tob. vii. 14.

    The gods would not have delivered a soul into the body which hath arms and legs, only instruments of doing; but that it were intended the mind should employ them. Philip Sidney.

    If, haply, you my father do suspect,
    An instrument of this your calling back,
    Lay not your blame on me. William Shakespeare, Othello.

    All voluntary self-denials and austerities which Christianity commends become necessary, not simply for themselves, but as instruments towards a higher end. Decay of Piety.

    Reputation is the smallest sacrifice those can make us, who have been the instruments of our ruin. Jonathan Swift, Miscel.

    There is one thing to be considered concerning reason, whether syllogism be the proper instrument of it, and the usefullest way of exercising this faculty. John Locke.

    He scarcely knew what was done in his own chamber, but as it pleased her instruments to frame themselves. Philip Sidney, b. ii.

    All the instruments which aided to expose the child, were even then lost when it was found. William Shakespeare, Winter's Tale.

    In benefits as well as injuries, it is the principal that we are to consider, not the instrument; that which a man does by another, is in truth his own act. Roger L'Estrange.

    The bold are but th' instruments of the wise,
    They undertake the dangers they advise. Dryden.


  1. instrument

    An instrument, in the most general sense, is a tool or device designed to perform a specific function, which may be scientific, musical, or practical. This could be anything from a microscope used in a laboratory, to a guitar used in a concert, to a hammer used in construction. It is often designed to allow a fine precision or control in accomplishing a task.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Instrumentnoun

    that by means of which any work is performed, or result is effected; a tool; a utensil; an implement; as, the instruments of a mechanic; astronomical instruments

  2. Instrumentnoun

    a contrivance or implement, by which musical sounds are produced; as, a musical instrument

  3. Instrumentnoun

    a writing, as the means of giving formal expression to some act; a writing expressive of some act, contract, process, as a deed, contract, writ, etc

  4. Instrumentnoun

    one who, or that which, is made a means, or is caused to serve a purpose; a medium, means, or agent

  5. Instrumentverb

    to perform upon an instrument; to prepare for an instrument; as, a sonata instrumented for orchestra

  6. Etymology: [F. instrument, L. instrumentum. See Instruct.]


  1. Instrument

    Instrument is a documentary film directed by Jem Cohen about the band Fugazi. Cohen's relationship with band member Ian MacKaye extends back to the 1970s when the two met in high school in Washington, D.C.. The film takes its title from the Fugazi song of the same name, from their 1993 album, In on the Kill Taker. Editing of the film was done by both Cohen and the members of the band over the course of five years. It was shot from 1987 through 1998 on super 8, 16mm and video and is composed mainly of footage of concerts, interviews with the band members, practices, tours and time spent in the studio recording their 1995 album, Red Medicine. The film also includes portraits of fans as well as interviews with them at various Fugazi shows around the United States throughout the years. The Instrument Soundtrack by Fugazi was released in conjunction with the film. It consisted primarily of instrumental and unreleased songs. When asked what the goal was in making Instrument, Cohen responded: One such misconception is shared in a scene where drummer Brendan Canty tells his bandmates how his sister's boyfriend believes that Fugazi lives in a house together without heat and subsisting on a steady diet of nothing but rice. Cohen has also said that "[o]ne of the reasons why I work with Fugazi and they work with me is that we enjoy traveling through this madness. It's what they write songs about and it's what I try to document in my films."

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Instrument

    in′strōō-ment, n. a tool or utensil: a machine producing musical sounds: a writing containing a contract: one who, or that which, is made a means.—adj. Instrument′al, acting as an instrument or means: serving to promote an object: helpful: belonging to or produced by musical instruments: (gram.) serving to indicate the instrument or means—of a case in Sanskrit, involving the notion of by or with.—ns. Instrument′alist, one who plays on a musical instrument; Instrumental′ity, agency.—adv. Instrument′ally.—n. Instrumentā′tion (mus.), the arrangement of a composition for performance by different instruments: the playing upon musical instruments. [O. Fr.,—L. instrumentuminstruĕre, to instruct.]

Dictionary of Nautical Terms

  1. instrument

    A term of extensive application among tools and weapons; but it is here introduced as an official conveyance of some right, or the record of some fact.

Editors Contribution

  1. instrument

    A type of product to create music.

    Musical instruments are beautiful to hear and see people playing.

    Submitted by MaryC on March 8, 2020  

  2. instrument

    An official governmental document or contract that creates types of rights or rules.

    The universal declaration of human rights forms an element various governmental instruments throughout the world and all legislation is verified to ensure it is compliant with the universal declaration of human rights.

    Submitted by MaryC on March 8, 2020  

British National Corpus

  1. Spoken Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'instrument' in Spoken Corpus Frequency: #3595

  2. Nouns Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'instrument' in Nouns Frequency: #848

How to pronounce instrument?

How to say instrument in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of instrument in Chaldean Numerology is: 3

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of instrument in Pythagorean Numerology is: 9

Examples of instrument in a Sentence

  1. Rhiannon Giddens:

    Well, you know, the original banjos were all handmade instruments. Gourd - it would be made with gourds and whatever, you know, materials would have been around. And, you know, first hundred years of its existence, the banjo's known as a plantation instrument, as a black instrument.

  2. Andrew Schneider:

    But then there's a moment like tonight, a profound and transcendent experience, the feeling as if a door has opened, and it's all because of that instrument, that incredible, magical instrument.

  3. Nicholas Berry:

    We need an instrument for us, an instrument linked to future growth, i want to see America rebuild Cuba.

  4. U.S. vs Cruikshan:

    The right of bearing arms for a lawful purpose is not a right granted by the Constitution neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence.

  5. Jessamyn Stanley:

    I don't want people to say, 'Jessamyn is playing her instrument; I need to go get the exact same instrument she's playing.' That's not the point. The point is you find out your instrument, and then we can all play together.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for instrument

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

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"instrument." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 8 Dec. 2023. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/instrument>.

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