The very first definition of an instrument is a ‘tool’ and as such it could be an extremely significant word, particularly because there are so many jobs and professions where the work would be impossible without such a tool. So, normally these ‘tools’ or ‘instruments’ are for precision work. Although there is a massive range of different tools, a few items come to mind straight away and are listed below.
The second meaning is a device for measurement, especially in a vehicle or aircraft. There are one or two instruments that became standard since the inception of the motor vehicle and which you may be familiar with. Obviously the speedometer and fuel gauge are completely indispensable, as are other controls such as lights and oil rod for checking oil levels ( oil is needed to reduce friction ).
Nowadays aircraft certainly have sophisticated instruments incorporated into the pilot’s control panel and can include auto-pilot and even automatic landing procedures, not to mention pressurization controls.
Although, for a tennis player, a racket could be deemed as an instrument, we would hold that musical instruments have higher precedence among these definitions. A musical instrument is a device for producing musical sounds. At the present day this definition includes specialized software for creating complete productions and compositions. Moreover some people might consider these methods as contrived, however music production instruments are gaining popularity.
Other meanings for an instrument are as follows :
Appliance , mechanism , apparatus , a formal or legal document , implement , utensil , gadget , device
Additionally in most cases, to be able to use your instrument effectively, you would need plenty of practice, indeed so much so that the experienced user will have developed a skill. It’s not surprising then, that often times instructors may be needed.
As for etymology it is interesting to note that the central part of this Latin word contains four letters spelling out the word ‘true’ and may confirm certain beliefs like ; music can never lie, for it is an expression of joy. Similar principals apply for other tools and instruments.
So the Latin word ‘instruere’ means ; to instruct, construct, equip
And ‘instrumentum’ means ; equipment or implement.