What does instrumental mean?

Definitions for instrumental
ˌɪn strəˈmɛn tlin·stru·men·tal

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

Princeton's WordNet

  1. instrumentaladjective

    relating to or designed for or performed on musical instruments

    "instrumental compositions"; "an instrumental ensemble"

  2. implemental, instrumental, subservientadjective

    serving or acting as a means or aid

    "instrumental in solving the crime"


  1. instrumentalnoun

    The instrumental case.

  2. instrumentalnoun

    A composition without lyrics.

  3. instrumentaladjective

    Acting as an instrument; serving as a means; contributing to promote; conductive; helpful; serviceable; essential or central.

    He was instrumental in conducting the business.

  4. instrumentaladjective

    Pertaining to, made by, or prepared for, an instrument, especially a musical instrument.

    instrumental music

  5. instrumentaladjective

    Applied to a case expressing means or agency, generally indicated in English by by or with with the objective.

    the instrumental case.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. Instrumentaladjective

    Etymology: instrumental, French; instrumentum, Latin.

    All second and instrumental causes, without that operative faculty which God gave them, would become altogether silent, virtueless, and dead. Walter Raleigh, Hist. of the World.

    Prayer, which is instrumental to every thing, hath a particular promise in this thing. Jeremy Taylor, Rule of living holy.

    It is not an essential part of religion, but rather an auxiliary and instrumental duty. George Smalridge, Sermons.

    I discern some excellent final causes of conjunction of body and soul; but the instrumental I know not, nor what invisible bands and fetters unite them together. Richard Bentley, Sermons.

    The presbyterian merit is of little weight, when they allege themselves instrumental towards the restoration. Jonathan Swift.

    They which, under pretence of the law ceremonial abrogated, require the abrogation of instrumental musick, approving nevertheless the use of vocal melody to remain, must shew some reason, wherefore the one should be thought a legal ceremony and not the other. Richard Hooker, b. v.

    Oft in bands,
    While they keep watch, or nightly rounding walk,
    With heav'nly touch of instrumental sounds
    In full harmonious number join'd, their songs
    Divide the night, and lift our thoughts to heav'n. John Milton.

    Sweet voices, mix'd with instrumental sounds,
    Ascend the vaulted roof, the vaulted roof rebounds. Dryd.


  1. instrumental

    Instrumental generally refers to something that serves as a means or tool to achieve a goal or purpose. It can be used in various fields such as music, logic, and philosophy. In music, for example, instrumental refers to musical composition or performance without vocals. In logic or philosophy, it can refer to the belief that actions should be judged based on their outcomes or usefulness.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Instrumentaladjective

    acting as an instrument; serving as a means; contributing to promote; conductive; helpful; serviceable; as, he was instrumental in conducting the business

  2. Instrumentaladjective

    pertaining to, made by, or prepared for, an instrument, esp. a musical instrument; as, instrumental music, distinguished from vocal music

  3. Instrumentaladjective

    applied to a case expressing means or agency; as, the instrumental case. This is found in Sanskrit as a separate case, but in Greek it was merged into the dative, and in Latin into the ablative. In Old English it was a separate case, but has disappeared, leaving only a few anomalous forms

  4. Etymology: [Cf. F. instrumental.]


  1. Instrumental

    An instrumental is a musical composition or recording without lyrics, or singing, although it might include some inarticulate vocal input; the music is primarily or exclusively produced by musical instruments. In a song that is otherwise sung, a section not sung but played with instruments can be called an instrumental interlude. If the instruments are percussion instruments, the interlude can be called a percussion interlude. These interludes are a form of break in the song.

Suggested Resources

  1. instrumental

    Song lyrics by instrumental -- Explore a large variety of song lyrics performed by instrumental on the Lyrics.com website.

How to pronounce instrumental?

How to say instrumental in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of instrumental in Chaldean Numerology is: 7

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of instrumental in Pythagorean Numerology is: 4

Examples of instrumental in a Sentence

  1. Django Reinhardt:

    Jazz attracted me because in it I found a formal perfection and instrumental precision that I admire in classical music, but which popular music doesn't have.

  2. Michalis Pilides:

    It was difficult, there was a shortage of liquidity and bureaucracy in moving capital around, but gradually we got used to it and the situation improved, both the state and banks introduced deep structural changes and that was instrumental in regaining trust which allowed controls to be relaxed.


    A Woman trading her beauty for attention is same as a Man exhibiting his intelligence, for these primary survival instincts have been instrumental in the evolution of society.

  4. Faraz Sanei:

    The political risks are great. The hardliners still control parliament. They control the security and intelligence forces. They control the apparatus which has been instrumental in keeping these individuals under house arrest.

  5. Barry Wynn:

    Particularly in California, a lot of the Silicon Valley support [that] was very instrumental in electing President Obama is taking a real strong look at Jeb Bush and we’re seeing a lot of anecdotal evidence that a lot of that support will be moving to him.

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Translations for instrumental

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

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

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