- serving or acting as an instrument or means; useful; helpful.
- performed on or written for a musical instrument or instruments: instrumental music.
- of or relating to an instrument or tool.
- (in certain inflected languages, as Old English and Russian) noting or pertaining to a case having as its distinctive function the indication of means or agency, as Old English beseah blīthe andweitan “looked with a happy countenance.”
- noting the affix or other element characteristic of this case, or a word containing such an element.
- similar to such a case form in function or meaning, as the Latin instrumental ablative, gladiō, “by means of a sword.”
- (in case grammar) pertaining to the semantic role of a noun phrase that indicates the inanimate, nonvolitional, immediate cause of the action expressed by a verb, as the rock in The rock broke the window or in I broke the window with the rock.
- the instrumental case.
- a word in the instrumental case.
- a construction of similar meaning.
- a musical composition played by an instrument or a group of instruments.Compare vocal(def 8).
Origin of instrumental
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for instrumental
You write quite a lot about your relationship with your mother and how she was instrumental in your success.Portrait of the Austin Mahone as a Teen Idol
December 10, 2014
Goebbels was also instrumental in the initial success Strauss had under the Nazis.Top Nazis And Their Complicated Relationship With Artists
November 30, 2014
The instrumental view of culture has it wrong, she argues, and should be replaced with what she calls an “expressive view.”The Insane Swedish Plan to Rate Games for Sexism
November 20, 2014
And in 1939, the MOMA building opened that he was instrumental in designing and building.This Republican Loved Taxes & Modern Art
November 19, 2014
“It sounds like the kind of decision that a candidate and a campaign would be instrumental in shaping,” she said.Is Ready for Hillary Ready to Fold—or Work With Candidate Clinton?
November 13, 2014
The trade with England depends on the peace which we have been instrumental in preserving.The Last Voyage
Lady (Annie Allnutt) Brassey
But whether or not any of these leaders was instrumental in his awakening is now unknown.Hymns and Hymnwriters of Denmark
Jens Christian Aaberg
After this, hypnosis can be instrumental in achieving the final goal.A Practical Guide to Self-Hypnosis
They hate me now because I have been instrumental in thwarting them.Kilgorman
Talbot Baines Reed
If she were innocent, then she must be in trouble, and he hoped to be instrumental in relieving her.Frank Merriwell's Bravery
Burt L. Standish
- serving as a means or influence; helpful
- of, relating to, or characterized by an instrument or instruments
- played by or composed for musical instruments
- grammar denoting a case of nouns, etc, in certain inflected languages, indicating the instrument used in performing an action, usually translated into English using the prepositions with or by means of
- a piece of music composed for instruments rather than for voices
- the instrumental case
- a word or speech element in the instrumental case
Word Origin and History for instrumental
late 14c., "of the nature of an instrument," from Old French instrumental, from Medieval Latin instrumentalis, from Latin instrumentum (see instrument). Meaning "serviceable, useful" is from c.1600. Of music, c.1500; noun meaning "musical composition for instruments only" is attested by 1940. Related: Instrumentally; instrumentality.