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Instrument vs. Equipment: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
Instrument is a tool or device for precise work, often used in scientific, musical, or technical contexts, while equipment refers to a set of tools or machinery needed for a specific task or activity.
Instrument vs. Equipment

Key Differences

An instrument is typically a device designed for specific, often precise tasks. It can be used in various fields, including music (musical instruments), science (measuring instruments), and navigation (navigational instruments). Equipment, on the other hand, encompasses a broader range of tools, machinery, and gear necessary for particular activities or operations, often including multiple instruments and other apparatus.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 11, 2023
Instruments are generally characterized by their precision and specialized function. For instance, a thermometer is an instrument for measuring temperature with high accuracy. Equipment, however, may include a range of items, not necessarily characterized by precision, used to fulfill a task. For example, camping equipment includes tents, sleeping bags, and cooking gear.
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In many professional fields, such as surgery or aviation, specific instruments are vital for detailed and accurate operations. These instruments are often sophisticated and require skill to operate. Equipment in these fields, like surgical equipment or aviation equipment, encompasses the entire set of tools necessary to perform the operations, including various instruments.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 11, 2023
The design and complexity of an instrument are typically focused on enhancing its ability to perform a particular function or set of functions with precision. Equipment design, conversely, focuses on providing a comprehensive set of tools to enable the completion of a task or series of tasks, which may include several instruments as part of the overall setup.
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Nov 11, 2023
In the context of maintenance and usage, instruments often require calibration and specialized care to maintain their precision and effectiveness. Equipment maintenance can be broader, covering a range of tasks from simple cleaning to complex repairs, encompassing all the tools and machinery within the equipment set.
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Nov 11, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Definition

A tool or device for specific, precise tasks.
A set of tools or machinery for specific activities.
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Characteristics

Precision and specialization.
Broad-ranging, including multiple tools and instruments.
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Examples

Musical instruments, scientific instruments.
Camping equipment, surgical equipment.
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Design Focus

Enhancing specific functions with accuracy.
Providing comprehensive tools for a task.
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Maintenance

Often requires calibration and specialized care.
Maintenance can be broader, covering various tasks.
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Instrument and Equipment Definitions

Instrument

Precision Tool
The surgeon used a delicate instrument for the operation.
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Equipment

Outdoor Gear
They packed camping equipment for their weekend in the mountains.
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Instrument

Navigational Aid
The pilot relied on instruments to navigate through the fog.
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Nov 11, 2023

Equipment

Set of Tools
The construction workers arrived with their equipment.
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Instrument

A tool or implement used to do or facilitate work, especially a small precision tool used by a professional
Sterilized the scalpel and other surgical instruments.
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Equipment

Machinery
The factory was full of heavy industrial equipment.
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Instrument

A device for recording, measuring, or controlling, especially such a device functioning as part of a control system.
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Equipment

Sporting Gear
His golf equipment includes clubs, balls, and a bag.
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Instrument

(Music) A device designed to enable a person to make musical sounds, as by blowing into it, striking it, depressing the keys on a keyboard, or plucking, strumming, or running a bow over strings.
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Oct 19, 2023

Equipment

The act of equipping or the state of being equipped
Responsible for the rapid equipment of the troops.
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Instrument

A means by which something is done; an agency
"The gods are just, and of our pleasant vices / Make instruments to plague us" (Shakespeare).
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Equipment

Something with which a person, organization, or thing is equipped
The athletes keep their equipment in the locker room.
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Instrument

One used by another to accomplish a purpose; a dupe.
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Equipment

The rolling stock especially of a transportation system.
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Instrument

A legal document, especially one that represents a right of payment or conveys an interest, such as a check, promissory note, deed, or will.
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Oct 19, 2023

Equipment

The mental and emotional resources of an individual
Doesn't have the equipment to cope.
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Instrument

To provide or equip with instruments.
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Equipment

The act of equipping, or the state of being equipped, as for a voyage or expedition.
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Oct 19, 2023

Instrument

(Music) To compose or arrange for performance.
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Equipment

Any items used in equipping something or someone, for example things needed for an expedition or voyage.
We need more gardening equipment if we want to properly landscape our yard, not just a rake and some gloves.
The sports shop sells different kits of famous clubs, and equipment from all kind of sports.
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Instrument

A device used to produce music.
The violinist was a master of her instrument.
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Equipment

The male genitalia.
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Instrument

A means or agency for achieving an effect.
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Equipment

The act of equipping, or the state of being equipped, as for a voyage or expedition.
The equipment of the fleet was hastened by De Witt.
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Instrument

A measuring or displaying device.
The instrument detected an increase in radioactivity.
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Equipment

Whatever is used in equipping; necessaries for an expedition or voyage; the collective designation for the articles comprising an outfit; equipage; as, a railroad equipment (locomotives, cars, etc. ; for carrying on business); horse equipments; infantry equipments; naval equipments; laboratory equipments.
Armed and dight,In the equipments of a knight.
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Instrument

A tool, implement used for manipulation or measurement.
The dentist set down his tray of instruments.
The scientist recorded the temperature with a thermometer but wished he had a more accurate instrument.
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Oct 19, 2023

Equipment

An instrumentality needed for an undertaking or to perform a service
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Instrument

Ellipsis of flight instrument
Flight within clouds must be made by reference to your instruments.
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Equipment

Professional Kit
Firefighters wear specialized equipment for protection.
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Nov 11, 2023

Instrument

(legal) A legal document, such as a contract, deed, trust, mortgage, power, indenture, or will.
A bond indenture is the instrument that gives a bond its value.
Negotiable instruments are the foundation of the debt markets.
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Oct 19, 2023

Instrument

(figuratively) A person used as a mere tool for achieving a goal.
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Instrument

(transitive) To apply measuring devices.
An instrumented test article
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Instrument

(transitive) To devise, conceive, cook up, plan.
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Instrument

To perform upon an instrument; to prepare for an instrument.
A sonata instrumented for orchestra
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Instrument

That by means of which any work is performed, or result is effected; a tool; a utensil; an implement; a device; as, the instruments of a mechanic; astronomical instruments.
All the lofty instruments of war.
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Oct 19, 2023

Instrument

A contrivance or implement, by which musical sounds are produced; as, a musical instrument.
Praise him with stringed instruments and organs.
But signs when songs and instruments he hears.
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Oct 19, 2023

Instrument

A writing, as the means of giving formal expression to some act; a writing expressive of some act, contract, process, as a deed, contract, writ, etc.
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Oct 19, 2023

Instrument

One who, or that which, is made a means, or is caused to serve a purpose; a medium, means, or agent; as, their army was primarily an instrument of oppression.
Or useful serving man and instrument,To any sovereign state.
The bold are but the instruments of the wise.
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Instrument

To perform upon an instrument; to prepare for an instrument; as, a sonata instrumented for orchestra.
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Instrument

To furnish or equip with instruments; to attach instruments to; as, the fighter planes were heavily instrumented; the patient was instrumented to monitor him remotely.
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Instrument

A device that requires skill for proper use
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Instrument

The means whereby some act is accomplished;
My greed was the instrument of my destruction
Science has given us new tools to fight disease
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Instrument

A person used by another to gain an end
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Instrument

(law) a document that states some contractual relationship or grants some right
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Instrument

The semantic role of the entity (usually inanimate) that the agent uses to perform an action or start a process
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Instrument

Any of various devices or contrivances that can be used to produce musical tones or sounds
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Instrument

Equip with instruments for measuring, recording, or controlling
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Instrument

Write an instrumental score for
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Instrument

Address a legal document to
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Instrument

Musical Device
She played the piano, her favorite musical instrument.
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Instrument

Measuring Device
A barometer is an instrument used to measure atmospheric pressure.
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Instrument

Scientific Apparatus
They used a spectrometer, an instrument for measuring light wavelengths.
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

What does equipment include?

Equipment includes a set of tools, machinery, or gear needed for specific activities.
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Can an instrument be part of equipment?

Yes, an instrument can be a component of a larger set of equipment.
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How is a musical instrument maintained?

Musical instruments often require regular tuning, cleaning, and sometimes professional servicing.
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Nov 11, 2023

What is an example of scientific equipment?

Scientific equipment can include microscopes, test tubes, and centrifuges.
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How does equipment differ in sports?

In sports, equipment refers to items like balls, rackets, and protective gear necessary for playing.
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Are instruments always smaller than equipment?

Instruments are often smaller, focusing on precision tasks, but this is not always the case.
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Nov 11, 2023

How do industries categorize equipment?

Industries categorize equipment based on its function, such as office equipment, construction equipment, etc.
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Nov 11, 2023

What is the main use of an instrument?

Instruments are used for specific tasks that require precision, like measuring or music creation.
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Can equipment be used without training?

Some equipment requires training or skill to use safely and effectively, especially in professional contexts.
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How often should instruments be calibrated?

Calibration frequency for instruments varies based on their use and the precision required.
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Is a computer considered an instrument or equipment?

A computer can be considered as equipment, but specific components like sensors can be instruments.
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Nov 11, 2023

Why is precision important in instruments?

Precision is crucial in instruments to ensure accurate readings and performance in tasks.
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Nov 11, 2023

Is a smartphone considered an instrument?

A smartphone is generally considered equipment, but some of its functions, like sensors, act as instruments.
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Nov 11, 2023

Can the same item be both an instrument and equipment?

Yes, in different contexts, the same item might be considered an instrument or part of equipment.
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What is personal protective equipment (PPE)?

PPE refers to protective clothing, helmets, goggles, or other gear designed to safeguard the wearer's body from injury.
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Nov 11, 2023

What factors influence equipment selection in a project?

Equipment selection depends on the project's scale, nature, and specific task requirements.
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What equipment is essential for a home office?

Essential home office equipment includes a computer, printer, and basic office supplies.
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Nov 11, 2023

What is the role of instruments in research?

Instruments in research are crucial for conducting experiments, measurements, and data collection.
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Nov 11, 2023

What role do instruments play in education?

Instruments like laboratory equipment are essential for practical learning in scientific education.
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Nov 11, 2023

Do professionals need specialized equipment?

Many professionals require specialized equipment tailored to their industry's needs.
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Nov 11, 2023

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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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