Also found in: Thesaurus, Medical, Idioms, Encyclopedia.


1. Serving as a means or agency; implemental: was instrumental in solving the crime.
2. Of, relating to, or accomplished with an instrument or tool.
3. Music Performed on or written for an instrument.
4. Grammar Of, relating to, or being the case used typically to express means, agency, or accompaniment.
5. Of or relating to instrumentalism.
a. Grammar The instrumental case.
b. A word or form in the instrumental case.
2. Music A composition for one or more instruments, usually without vocal accompaniment.

in′stru·men′tal·ly adv.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
"Doubtless; but I fear that my young relative Will Ladislaw is chiefly determined in his aversion to these callings by a dislike to steady application, and to that kind of acquirement which is needful instrumentally, but is not charming or immediately inviting to self-indulgent taste.
Geological Survey (USGS), several magnitude 8 or stronger earthquakes have occurred in South America since 1990, including the 1960 magnitude 9.5 in southern Chile, which was the "largest instrumentally recorded earthquake in the world."
Since I did not know any of the songs beforehand, I didn't know what was missing, and found that these tunes do work well instrumentally. What is particularly interesting is that the combination of styles just in these five tunes is in itself eclectic, an interesting representation of Ives's musical choices.
He said: "Karl is great for getting us to pay attention to details, the space and the sounds of the instruments within the song, because everything has its own place spatially and instrumentally."
Instrumentally sending ears into a trance and sounding similar to The XX.
Pakistani students learning English as second language will be instrumentally motivated.
Employing Amazing Grace, instrumentally interpreted, as his signature tune, he would proceed to interviewhis chosen guest - invariably producing an interesting conversation.
Setting the IR emitters with a height gradient ranging from 45 mm to 25 mm or at a constant height of 35 mm above the top of the donuts, and using either IR cooking time, produced donuts that were the most instrumentally similar to the control.
Eventually Sollee got a classical training, too, but his voice, instrumentally and vocally, is anchored in that family history.
Instrumentally, they were as tight as an 80s rockstar's trousers and singer Alec Townsend's impressive vocals seemed stronger and more full of emotion than ever.
"In this country, more than in many others, we seem to be taking for granted that it is all right to regard the human embryo as something to be used instrumentally - that is my big moral concern."