• IPA: /ɪnstɹəˈmɛntəl/, /ɪnstɹʊˈmɛntəl/


  1. essential or central; of great importance or relevance.
    He was instrumental in conducting the business.
    • c. 1599–1602, William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Hamlet, Prince of Denmarke”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358 ↗, [Act I, scene ii]:
      The head is not more native to the heart, The hand more instrumental to the mouth
    • 2012, Christoper Zara, Tortured Artists: From Picasso and Monroe to Warhol and Winehouse, the Twisted Secrets of the World's Most Creative Minds, part 1, chapter 2, gbooks :
      Few songwriters have been as instrumental in creating the mold for American music.
  2. (music) Pertaining to, made by, or prepared for, an instrument, especially a musical instrument (rather than the human voice).
    instrumental music
    An instrumental part
    • 1848, Thomas Babington Macaulay, The History of England from the Accession of James the Second
      He defended the use of instrumental music in public worship.
    • c. 1700, John Dryden, Cymon and Iphigenia
      Sweet voices mix'd with instrumental sounds.
  3. (grammar) Applied to a case expressing means or agency, generally indicated in English by by or with with the objective.
    the instrumental case
Antonyms Translations Translations Translations Noun

instrumental (plural instrumentals)

  1. (grammar) The instrumental case.
  2. (music) A composition written or performed without lyrics, sometimes using a lead instrument to replace vocals.
    • 1977, Stereo Review (volume 38, page 70)
      I recommend this album in the face of the fact that five of the eleven songs are the purest filler, dull instrumentals with a harmonica rifling over an indifferent rhythm section. The rest is magnificent […]
  3. (plural only, music) The backing track of a song. The audio of a song without the vocal track.

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