AskDefine | Define instrument

Dictionary Definition



1 a device that requires skill for proper use
2 the means whereby some act is accomplished; "my greed was the instrument of my destruction"; "science has given us new tools to fight disease" [syn: tool]
3 a person used by another to gain an end [syn: pawn, cat's-paw]
4 (law) a document that states some contractual relationship or grants some right [syn: legal document, legal instrument, official document]
5 the semantic role of the entity (usually inanimate) that the agent uses to perform an action or start a process [syn: instrumental role]
6 any of various devices or contrivances that can be used to produce musical tones or sounds [syn: musical instrument]


1 equip with instruments for measuring, recording, or controlling
2 write an instrumental score for [syn: instrumentate]
3 address a legal document to

User Contributed Dictionary

see Instrument



From instrumentum


  • /ˈɪnstrʌmənt/, /"InstrVm@nt/


  1. A device used to produce music.
    The violinist was a master of her instrument.
  2. A measuring or displaying device.
    The instrument detected an increase in radioactivity.
  3. A tool, implement.
    The dentist set down his tray of instruments.
  4. A legal document, such as a contract, deed, trust, mortgage, power, indenture, or will.
    A bond indenture is the instrument that gives a bond its value.
    Negotiable instruments are the foundation of the debt markets.
  5. A person used as a mere tool for achieving a goal.


music device
measuring device
legal document
  • German: Dokument, Urkunde
  • Korean: sc=Hang ()
  • Spanish: instrumento
person used as a mere tool
  • German: Handlanger
  • Korean: sc=Hang
  • Spanish: instrumento


  1. To apply measuring devices.
  2. To devise, conceive, cook-up, plan.

See also

Extensive Definition

An Instrument is a tool, intended for a purpose other than mechanical work, in particular a refined one.
  • Musical instruments are devices designed to produce music, frequently by plucking or striking a string or bell or drum surface, or by forcing air to resonate (see wind instrument).
  • Scientific instruments are devices intended to assist in the conduct of science. An example would be the test tubes and other glassware one might find in a chemistry or biology laboratory. Scientific instruments are not limited to laboratory equipment; an example is the Hubble telescope. Specific categories of scientific instruments include
  • Flight instruments are devices used to maintain attitude of aircraft in IMC.
  • Medical instruments are devices for the diagnosis and treatment of diseases, such as stethoscopes.
  • Instruments of torture is a term for the means whereby some act of torture is accomplished.
  • Legal instruments are documents used to formally document various types of transactions or confirm certain statuses for specific purposes, such as confirming contractual relations, civil status, etc. Examples include wills, writs, court order, contracts, treaties, marriage licenses and driver's licenses.
  • Financial instruments are documents used to formally document various types of financial transactions. Examples include loan agreements, bonds, mortgages, stocks and floating charges.
  • Negotiable instruments are a class of documents evidencing promises or orders to pay a certain sum of money.
  • In statistics, an instrument is an instrumental variable.
  • A statutory instrument refers to a regulation or other secondary legislation passed pursuant to authority given by primary legislation.
  • Vehicle instrument (i.e. speedometer, fuel gauge...), analogical or, nowadays, digital.
  • Instrument - a documentary film about the band Fugazi.
  • INSTRUMENTS is a band from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
  • Instruments is a performance visualizer built in to Mac OS X v10.5.
  • weather instruments.
instrument in Asturian: Instrumentu
instrument in Czech: Instrument
instrument in Danish: Instrument
instrument in German: Instrument
instrument in Spanish: Instrumento
instrument in French: Instrument
instrument in Galician: Instrumento
instrument in Croatian: Instrument
instrument in Indonesian: Instrumentasi
instrument in Dutch: Instrument
instrument in Norwegian: Instrument
instrument in Norwegian Nynorsk: Instrument
instrument in Polish: Instrument
instrument in Portuguese: Instrumento
instrument in Romanian: Instrument
instrument in Simple English: Instrument
instrument in Finnish: Instrumentti
instrument in Swedish: Instrument

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Bourdon tube, Charlie McCarthy, Danish balance, Federal, Gramophone, Gyropilot, Mach meter, Roman balance, Teletype, Weightometer, X-ray machine, absolute altimeter, accelerometer, adapt, aerial reconnaissance camera, aerometer, aeroscope, agency, agent, air log, alloy balance, altigraph, altimeter, amanuensis, ammeter, analytical balance, ancilla, anemograph, anemometer, anemoscope, aneroid, antler, apparatus, apple-polisher, appliance, arrange, aspirator, ass-licker, assay balance, autograph, automatic pilot, autosyn, awl, backslapper, baggage agent, balance, balance of precision, barb, barbed wire, barblet, barbule, barbwire, barometer, barrel scale, beam, bedpan, blank, bodkin, bombing locator, bombsight, bootlick, bootlicker, bradawl, brown-nose, brownie, bullion balance, business agent, calorimeter, caltrop, card compass, carpet tack, cash register, catalyst, catheter, channel, cheval-de-frise, chirograph, chromatoscope, chronograph, chronometer, chuck, claim agent, clamp, clasp, clawback, clerk, clinch, clinical thermometer, clip, cockspur, commercial agent, commission agent, compact, compass, compose, consignee, contract, contraption, contrivance, control rod, counter scale, courtier, cramp, creature, cringer, customer agent, cylinder scale, device, diathermy machine, dibble, direction finder, docket, document, dog, dossier, drain, drum scale, dummy, dupe, electrocardiograph, electroencephalograph, electrograph, equipment, evaporimeter, facsimile telegraph, factor, fan scale, fawner, fed, federal agent, fid, file, fishhook, flatterer, flexure plate scale, flight recorder, flunky, footlicker, forceps, fork, form, freight agent, functionary, gadget, gaff, galvanometer, gauge, gauger, gear, general agent, gimcrack, gimlet, gimmick, gizmo, go-between, goad, goniometer, gosport, gosport tube, grab, grapnel, grapple, grappler, grappling iron, grip, groveler, gyrocompass, hand tool, handmaid, handmaiden, handshaker, harmonize, harpoon, hat pin, heat lamp, helot, hemostat, holdfast, holograph, hook, horn, hub dynamometer, hygrograph, hygrometer, hypo, hypodermic, hypodermic needle, hypsometer, icepick, implement, inclinometer, induction compass, instrumentality, instrumentate, instrumentation, insurance agent, interagent, intermediary, intermediate, intermedium, jackal, jaws, joy stick, kaleidoscope, kowtower, kymograph, lackey, lance, lancet, land agent, laser, law agent, led captain, legal document, legal instrument, legal paper, lever, lever scales, lickspit, lickspittle, literary agent, loan agent, long-arm balance, machine, machinery, magnetic compass, make an adaptation, manometer, marlinespike, mealymouth, mean, means, measure, measurer, mechanical device, mechanical heart, mechanism, mechanize, mediator, medium, melodize, meteorograph, meter, microfilm reader, micrometer, microscope, midwife, mill, minion, ministry, motorize, musicalize, nail, needle, news agent, nippers, octant, official, official document, optical altimeter, orchestrate, organ, oscillograph, otoscope, oxgoad, ozonometer, pact, pair of scales, paper, paper clip, papers, paraphernalia, parchment, pari-mutuel, pari-mutuel machine, parliamentary agent, passenger agent, pawn, peon, personal file, photometer, pike, pin, pincers, pitchfork, pitot-static tube, plate fulcrum scale, platform scale, plaything, pliers, pluviograph, pluviometer, pneumatograph, pneumatometer, potentiometer, power tool, precision balance, precision scale, precision tool, press agent, prime mover, prism, probe, prong, punch, puppet, purchasing agent, pus basin, put to music, pyrometer, quadrant, quill, radar, radio, radio compass, radio direction finder, radiogoniometer, range finder, rate-of-climb indicator, real estate agent, recording barometer, recording hygrometer, register, retool, robot pilot, roll, rowel, sales agent, scale, scales, scalpel, score, scrip, script, scroll, secretary, seismograph, seismoscope, serf, servant, set, set to music, sextant, sharpen, short-arm balance, skewer, slave, sound, sound recorder, spaniel, spearhead, special agent, spectrograph, spectrohelioscope, spectroscope, speculum, speed tool, spicule, spiculum, spike, spine, spiral balance, spirit level, spirometer, spit, splint, spur, staple, static tube, station agent, stereopticon, stethoscope, steward, sting, stooge, strike radar scanner, suck, sun compass, suture, swab, sycophant, syringe, tachometer, tack, tackle, tang, tape recorder, teletypewriter, telltale, theatrical agent, thermograph, thermometer, thermometrograph, thermostat, thingumabob, thingumajig, thingummy, throttle, thumbtack, ticker, ticket agent, timeserver, tine, toad, toady, tongs, tool, toy, transcribe, transit instrument, transpose, travel agent, trepan, trephine, truckler, tufthunter, turnstile, tweezers, utensil, variometer, vehicle, venturi tube, viewer, viscosimeter, vise, voting machine, walking delegate, way, weigh scales, weighbridge, weighing machine, weight voltameter, whatnot, wherewithal, wrench, writ, write, writing, yes-man, yoke
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