View synonyms for instrumental


[ in-struh-men-tl ]


  1. serving or acting as an instrument or means; useful; helpful.

    Synonyms: implemental, effective, effectual

  2. performed on or written for a musical instrument or instruments:

    instrumental music.

  3. of or relating to an instrument or tool.
  4. Grammar.
    1. (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.”
    2. noting the affix or other element characteristic of this case, or a word containing such an element.
    3. similar to such a case form in function or meaning, as the Latin instrumental ablative, gladiō, “by means of a sword.”
    4. (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.


  1. Grammar.
    1. the instrumental case.
    2. a word in the instrumental case.
    3. a construction of similar meaning.
  2. a musical composition played by an instrument or a group of instruments. Compare vocal ( def 8 ).


/ ˌɪnstrəˈmɛntəl /


  1. serving as a means or influence; helpful
  2. of, relating to, or characterized by an instrument or instruments
  3. played by or composed for musical instruments
  4. 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


  1. a piece of music composed for instruments rather than for voices
  2. grammar
    1. the instrumental case
    2. a word or speech element in the instrumental case
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Derived Forms

  • ˌinstrumenˈtality, noun
  • ˌinstruˈmentally, adverb
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Other Words From

  • instru·mental·ly adverb
  • nonin·stru·mental adjective
  • nonin·stru·mental·ly adverb
  • unin·stru·mental adjective
  • unin·stru·mental·ly adverb
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Word History and Origins

Origin of instrumental1

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English word from Medieval Latin word instrūmentālis. See instrument, -al 1
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Example Sentences

Teenagers were instrumental in leading many of the racial justice protests across San Diego County over the summer.

Meanwhile, Kavadze adds, Georgia’s rich natural beauty will be more instrumental than ever.

From Ozy

Google My Business has been instrumental in driving customers to a local business.

What’s more, instrumental employees who analyze air samples from the sensitive equipment are on vacation.

Whatever the company’s formula, it seems it will be instrumental to making Elon Musk’s vision of a million-mile battery come true, and sooner rather than later.

You write quite a lot about your relationship with your mother and how she was instrumental in your success.

Goebbels was also instrumental in the initial success Strauss had under the Nazis.

The instrumental view of culture has it wrong, she argues, and should be replaced with what she calls an “expressive view.”

And in 1939, the MOMA building opened that he was instrumental in designing and building.

“It sounds like the kind of decision that a candidate and a campaign would be instrumental in shaping,” she said.

The Duke of Tarentum was mainly instrumental in saving the remnants of the army which had managed to cross the Elster.

This discovery and invention has been largely instrumental in the rapid development of sound recording.

Thus, contributions to vocal music, instrumental music and musical forms have been made by natives and residents of Virginia.

If she had been instrumental in the death of Sir Herbert, surely this was just the way she would conduct herself.

His present rather ridiculous discomfort he had been at least instrumental in bringing on himself.


Related Words




instrumentinstrumental conditioning