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1. A device, such as a saw, shovel, or drill, used to perform or facilitate manual or mechanical work.
a. A machine, such as a lathe, used to cut and shape machine parts or other objects.
b. The cutting part of such a machine.
3. Something regarded as necessary to the carrying out of one's occupation or profession: Words are the tools of our trade.
4. Something used in the performance of an operation; an instrument: "Modern democracies have the fiscal and monetary tools ... to end chronic slumps and galloping inflations" (Paul A. Samuelson).
5. Vulgar Slang The penis.
6. A person used to carry out the designs of another; a dupe.
a. A bookbinder's hand stamp.
b. A design impressed on a book cover by such a stamp.
8. Computers A utility program.
v. tooled, tool·ing, tools
1. To form, work, or decorate with a tool.
2. To ornament (a book cover) with a bookbinder's tool.
3. Slang To drive (a vehicle): tooled the car at 80 miles an hour.
1. To work with a tool.
2. Slang To drive or ride in a vehicle: tooled up and down the roads.
Phrasal Verb:
tool up
To provide an industry or a factory with machinery and tools suitable for a particular job.

[Middle English, from Old English tōl, possibly from Old Norse.]
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.


The following are general words used to refer to objects or pieces of equipment that you use to help you to do a particular kind of job:

1. 'tool'

A tool is usually a simple object that you use to make, shape, or mend something, for example a hammer, saw, spade, or spanner.

Remember to put all your tools away safely.
...a glass-cutting tool.

Tools that operate by electricity are called power tools.

Keep power tools out of children's reach.

Other things which are used to achieve something can also be referred to as tools. This is a fairly formal use.

Textbooks became the essential tools of the teacher.
2. 'implement'

An implement is a simple tool used for digging or cooking. Implement is a formal word.

The earliest wooden implements known are spears, clubs and sharpened sticks, possibly used for digging.
Don't use metal implements such as spoons when using non-stick pans.
3. 'instrument'

An instrument is an object used for a scientific or medical purpose, or for measuring something.

...surgical and dental instruments.

A musical instrument is an object from which music is produced, for example a violin, a drum, or a flute.

The drum is one of the oldest musical instruments.
4. 'utensil'

A utensil is usually a container or small object used for cooking, such as a saucepan or a spoon. Utensil is a formal word.

Students usually provide their own crockery, cutlery, cooking utensils and bedding.
5. 'device' and 'gadget'

A device or gadget is usually a fairly small object, often a complicated or unusual one. Some devices and gadgets are powered by electricity. Gadget is an informal word, and is often used showing disapproval.

...a tiny 'pacemaker' -- a device that sends pulses of electricity to activate the heart.
A dangerous new gadget will make it easy for bosses to spy on their staff.
6. 'machine'

A machine is a piece of equipment which uses electricity or some other form of power to perform a task. It can be quite large.

...when Walter Hunt and Elias Howe invented the sewing machine.
Employers have to provide workplaces, machines and methods of work that are safe.
7. 'appliance'

An appliance is usually a machine that is used in people's homes, such as a washing machine or cooker. Appliance is a formal word.

...household appliances.
Collins COBUILD English Usage © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 2004, 2011, 2012
References in classic literature ?
Then he unlocked the copper chest and lifted the lid, and Dorothy saw it was full of shining tools of all sorts and shapes.
To accomplish his object Ahab must use tools; and of all tools used in the shadow of the moon, men are most apt to get out of order.
ABOUT noon the next day the boys ar- rived at the dead tree; they had come for their tools. Tom was impatient to go to the haunted house; Huck was measurably so, also -- but suddenly said:
The concert of the tools and Adam's voice was at last broken by Seth, who, lifting the door at which he had been working intently, placed it against the wall, and said, "There!
However, this set me on rummaging for clothes, of which I found enough, but took no more than I wanted for present use, for I had others things which my eye was more upon - as, first, tools to work with on shore.
A LION, entering the workshop of a smith, sought from the tools the means of satisfying his hunger.
When at last the lumber and tools were assembled, and the doors were closed again and the cold draughts shut out, grandfather rode away to meet the coroner at the Shimerdas', and Fuchs took off his coat and settled down to work.
"You removed this stone very carelessly; but I suppose you had no tools to aid you."
They had none of them any firearms or any other weapons but hatchets and other tools, except this third Englishman; he had one of my rusty cutlasses, with which he made at the two last Spaniards, and wounded them both.
"I'll have it ready in little or no time," he said, bustling and packing away his tools. "You may go to my room to brush up and rest yourself.
We passed through one of the town gates, and went about three miles into the country, where I saw many labourers working with several sorts of tools in the ground, but was not able to conjecture what they were about: neither did observe any expectation either of corn or grass, although the soil appeared to be excellent.
"You see, dear man, this is not a sewing shop, and I had no proper tools; and, as they say, one needs a tool even to kill a louse," said Platon with one of his round smiles, obviously pleased with his work.

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