Definition of instrument in English:


Syllabification: in·stru·ment
Pronunciation: /ˈinstrəmənt


  • 1A tool or implement, especially one for delicate or scientific work: a surgical instrument writing instruments
    More example sentences
    • The use of robotics in medicine allows for unprecedented control and precision of surgical instruments in minimally invasive procedures.
    • I am a surgeon, so my tools are my surgical instruments.
    • Well, they are holding a pen fair, from April 19 to April 21, to showcase a plethora of pens and writing instruments.
  • 1.1A thing used in pursuing an aim or policy; a means: drama as an instrument of learning
    More example sentences
    • Both have committed themselves to developing education as an instrument of social change.
    • The decay of American liberalism as a credible instrument of social reform can be traced all the way back to the first decades of the twentieth century.
    • The court was laden with judges who believe strongly in judicial activism - liberally interpreting the law so that it can be used an instrument of social reform.
  • 1.2A person who is exploited or made use of: he was a mere instrument acting under coercion
    More example sentences
    • ‘No one is a mere instrument, no one a serf,’ said Friedrich Schiller.
    • The worker no longer sees himself as a mere instrument for fulfilling the needs of the entrepreneur.
    • The man took command in the home also; the woman was degraded and reduced to servitude; she became a mere instrument for the production of children.
    pawn, puppet, creature, dupe, cog; tool, cat's paw
    informal stooge
  • 2A measuring device used to gauge the level, position, speed, etc., of something, especially a motor vehicle or aircraft.
    More example sentences
    • In low visibility, they help guide pilots to the runway as we transition from flying on the aircraft's instruments to a visual landing.
    • The group will use an accousticom instrument to measure radiation levels in and around homes.
    • Test aircraft are well covered, along with other, usually neglected, topics such as manufacturing and aircraft instruments.
    measuring device, gauge, meter; indicator, dial, display; avionics
  • 3 (also musical instrument) An object or device for producing musical sounds: a percussion instrument
    More example sentences
    • The multi-talented performer plays an array of instruments including piano, guitar, bass, trumpet and saxophone.
    • I'm rooted in acoustic instruments like upright piano and violin, so my keyboard was the first electronic thing I'd ever used.
    • In common with most percussion instruments, the piano is incapable of producing continuous notes.
  • 4A formal document, especially a legal one: execution involves signature and unconditional delivery of the instrument
    More example sentences
    • The Magna Carta is often regarded as one of the first instruments which documented due process.
    • Without the ability to resort to formal regulatory and legal instruments, the Japanese bureaucracy could guide but could not lead.
    • The result is that if the memorandum were to have any effect at all, it had to be as a testamentary instrument, and not as document creating an inter vivos trust.


[with object] Back to top  
  • Equip (something) with measuring instruments.
    More example sentences
    • For Protocol 4, animals were instrumented before delivery to measure pulmonary artery pressure and left atrial pressure.
    • In this study, 12 animals were instrumented as in the mechanical ventilation study, but in addition, both hindlimbs were immobilized.
    • Numerous challenges arise in instrumenting any field test to acquire the data necessary for specific test measures.


Middle English: from Old French, or from Latin instrumentum 'equipment, implement', from the verb instruere 'construct, equip'.

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