1 tool for a particular task
ADJ. precision | sophisticated | reliable | crude | blunt The autopsy revealed that the deceased had been hit with a blunt instrument. (figurative) Even though it was a somewhat blunt instrument (= not very precise), our questionnaire provided us with some interesting ideas. | sharp | small | delicate | appropriate | research | drawing, measuring, writing | astronomical, flight, flying, mathematical, medical, navigation, navigational, optical, scientific, surgical | cockpit
QUANT. set a set of mathematical instruments
VERB + INSTRUMENT use All pupils should learn to use drawing instruments. | check, read to read the instruments and make a note of the wind speed and direction | design, develop, devise, invent | build, make All the instruments are made from glass capillary tubing.
INSTRUMENT + VERB measure sth an instrument that measures light intensity
INSTRUMENT + NOUN check The pilot did his instrument checks and taxied towards the runway. | maker | panel There was a warning light flashing on the instrument panel.
PHRASES an instrument of torture medieval instruments of torture such as the rack and the wheel
2 for playing music
ADJ. musical | beautiful, fine | classical | modern | period baroque music played on period instruments | solo | orchestral | brass, keyboard, percussion, string/stringed, wind, woodwind | acoustic, electric, electronic
VERB + INSTRUMENT play (on) She plays three musical instruments. The score was written to be played on a keyboard instrument. | learn, learn (how) to play | tune Ensure the instrument is tuned to concert pitch. | make an instrument made by a woman guitar maker in Canada
INSTRUMENT + VERB sound The instrument sounds like a cello.
INSTRUMENT + NOUN maker > Special page at MUSIC
3 sb/sth used to make sth happen
ADJ. chief, key, main, major, prime, principal | good, great They agreed that the UN was the best instrument for reaching agreement. | ideal | important, valuable | powerful | useful | effective | flexible | mere Some cynics say that sport is a mere instrument of capitalist domination. | chosen The despot claimed to be the chosen instrument of divine providence. | divine | political
VERB + INSTRUMENT perceive sb/sth as, regard sb/sth as, see sb/sth as, view sb/sth as They saw criminal law as an instrument for improving public morals. | use sb/sth as | make sb/sth
PREP. ~ for Criminal law is not the best instrument for dealing with family matters. | ~ of She was accused of making a public service an instrument of private advantage.