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Instrument vs. Machine: What's the Difference?

Edited by Sumera Saeed || By Sawaira Riaz || Updated on October 18, 2023
Instruments are tools for precise work or measurement, while machines are devices that perform tasks, often powered mechanically.

Key Differences

An instrument is generally a tool used for delicate, accurate work or to measure physical quantities, requiring human control for its operation; a machine, however, is typically a device, often large and powered by electricity or mechanical forces, designed to perform a specific task, generally without constant human guidance.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 18, 2023
Instruments are often handheld, like a surgeon's scalpel or a scientist's microscope, used to perform tasks with precision; machines, like a car or a washing machine, perform tasks more autonomously, often requiring an initial setup or input but operating independently afterward.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 18, 2023
Instruments are usually designed for specific tasks, such as a thermometer for measuring temperature or a barometer for atmospheric pressure; machines, on the other hand, can carry out a series of operations and might have multiple integrated functions, like a robot assembling cars in a factory.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 18, 2023
Instruments, due to their precision-based nature, are predominantly used in fields requiring detailed work or analysis, such as medicine, science, or music; machines are commonly found in industries and homes, performing a range of tasks from manufacturing goods to household chores.
Sara Rehman
Oct 18, 2023
Despite their differences, both instruments and machines are essential aspects of modern life, significantly contributing to various fields; instruments offer precision and detail, while machines provide efficiency and automation in task execution.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 18, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Function

Precise work or measurement
Performs tasks, often automatically
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Oct 18, 2023

Human Involvement

Requires human control
Operates independently after setup
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Usage

Specific tasks
Multiple functions, series of operations
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Oct 18, 2023

Field of Application

Medicine, science, music
Industry, manufacturing, household
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Oct 18, 2023

Power

Often manual
Usually requires an external power source
Aimie Carlson
Oct 18, 2023
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Instrument and Machine Definitions

Instrument

A device used for scientific measurement.
The researcher used an instrument to measure the seismic activity.
Janet White
Oct 18, 2023

Machine

An apparatus using mechanical power to perform tasks.
The machine roared to life, its gears turning smoothly.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 18, 2023

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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Dec 21, 2022

Machine

A person or group that operates in an organized and efficient way.
The organization was a fundraising machine.
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Oct 18, 2023

Instrument

A device for recording, measuring, or controlling, especially such a device functioning as part of a control system.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 21, 2022
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Machine

A computer or system of computers.
She booted up her machine and began to code.
Sara Rehman
Oct 18, 2023

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.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 21, 2022

Machine

A device consisting of fixed and moving parts that redirects mechanical energy to accomplish a particular task or set of tasks.
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Dec 21, 2022

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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Dec 21, 2022

Machine

See simple machine.
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Dec 21, 2022

Instrument

One used by another to accomplish a purpose; a dupe.
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Dec 21, 2022

Machine

See compound machine.
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Dec 21, 2022

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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Dec 21, 2022

Machine

A system or device for doing work, as an automobile or jackhammer, together with its power source and auxiliary equipment.
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Dec 21, 2022

Instrument

To provide or equip with instruments.
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Dec 21, 2022

Machine

A system or device, such as a computer, that performs or assists in the performance of a human task
The machine is down.
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Dec 21, 2022

Instrument

(Music) To compose or arrange for performance.
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Dec 21, 2022

Machine

An intricate natural system or organism, such as the human body.
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Dec 21, 2022

Instrument

A device used to produce music.
The violinist was a master of her instrument.
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Dec 21, 2022

Machine

A person who acts in a rigid, mechanical, or unconscious manner.
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Dec 21, 2022

Instrument

A means or agency for achieving an effect.
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Dec 21, 2022

Machine

An organized group of people whose members are or appear to be under the control of one or more leaders
A political machine.
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Dec 21, 2022

Instrument

A measuring or displaying device.
The instrument detected an increase in radioactivity.
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Dec 21, 2022

Machine

A device used to produce a stage effect, especially a mechanical means of lowering an actor onto the stage.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 21, 2022

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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Dec 21, 2022

Machine

A literary device used to produce an effect, especially the introduction of a supernatural being to resolve a plot.
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Dec 21, 2022

Instrument

Ellipsis of flight instrument
Flight within clouds must be made by reference to your instruments.
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Dec 21, 2022

Machine

An answering machine
Leave a message on my machine if I'm not home.
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Dec 21, 2022

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.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 21, 2022

Machine

Of, relating to, or felt to resemble a machine
Machine repairs.
Machine politics.
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Dec 21, 2022

Instrument

(figuratively) A person used as a mere tool for achieving a goal.
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Dec 21, 2022

Machine

To cut, shape, or finish by machine.
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Dec 21, 2022

Instrument

(transitive) To apply measuring devices.
An instrumented test article
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Dec 21, 2022

Machine

To be cut, shaped, or finished by machine
This metal machines easily.
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Dec 21, 2022

Instrument

(transitive) To devise, conceive, cook up, plan.
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Dec 21, 2022

Machine

A device that directs and controls energy, often in the form of movement or electricity, to produce a certain effect.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 21, 2022

Instrument

To perform upon an instrument; to prepare for an instrument.
A sonata instrumented for orchestra
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Dec 21, 2022

Machine

(dated) A vehicle operated mechanically, such as an automobile or an airplane.
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Dec 21, 2022

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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Dec 21, 2022

Machine

An answering machine or, by extension, voice mail.
I called you earlier, but all I got was the machine.
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Dec 21, 2022

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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Dec 21, 2022

Machine

(computing) A computer.
Game developers assume they're pushing the limits of the machine.
He refuses to turn off his Linux machine.
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Dec 21, 2022

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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Dec 21, 2022

Machine

(figuratively) A person or organisation that seemingly acts like a machine, being particularly efficient, single-minded, or unemotional.
Bruce Campbell was a "demon-killing machine" because he made quick work of killing demons.
The government has become a money-making machine.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 21, 2022

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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Dec 21, 2022

Machine

Especially, the group that controls a political or similar organization; a combination of persons acting together for a common purpose, with the agencies which they use.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 21, 2022

Instrument

To perform upon an instrument; to prepare for an instrument; as, a sonata instrumented for orchestra.
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Dec 21, 2022

Machine

(poetry) Supernatural agency in a poem, or a superhuman being introduced to perform some exploit.
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Dec 21, 2022

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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Dec 21, 2022

Machine

The system of special interest groups that supports a political party, especially in urban areas.
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Dec 21, 2022

Instrument

A device that requires skill for proper use
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Dec 21, 2022

Machine

Penis.
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Dec 21, 2022

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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Dec 21, 2022

Machine

(historical) A contrivance in the Ancient Greek theatre for indicating a change of scene, by means of which a god might cross the stage or deliver a divine message; the deus ex machina.
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Instrument

A person used by another to gain an end
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Machine

(obsolete) A bathing machine.
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Dec 21, 2022

Instrument

(law) a document that states some contractual relationship or grants some right
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Dec 21, 2022

Machine

To make by machinery.
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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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Dec 21, 2022

Machine

To shape or finish by machinery; (usually, more specifically) to shape subtractively by metal-cutting with machine-controlled toolpaths.
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Dec 21, 2022

Instrument

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

In general, any combination of bodies so connected that their relative motions are constrained, and by means of which force and motion may be transmitted and modified, as a screw and its nut, or a lever arranged to turn about a fulcrum or a pulley about its pivot, etc.; especially, a construction, more or less complex, consisting of a combination of moving parts, or simple mechanical elements, as wheels, levers, cams, etc., with their supports and connecting framework, calculated to constitute a prime mover, or to receive force and motion from a prime mover or from another machine, and transmit, modify, and apply them to the production of some desired mechanical effect or work, as weaving by a loom, or the excitation of electricity by an electrical machine.
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Dec 21, 2022

Instrument

Equip with instruments for measuring, recording, or controlling
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Machine

Any mechanical contrivance, as the wooden horse with which the Greeks entered Troy; a coach; a bicycle.
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Instrument

Write an instrumental score for
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Machine

A person who acts mechanically or at the will of another.
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Instrument

Address a legal document to
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Machine

A combination of persons acting together for a common purpose, with the agencies which they use; as, the social machine.
The whole machine of government ought not to bear upon the people with a weight so heavy and oppressive.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 21, 2022

Instrument

A tool or implement, especially one for precision work.
The surgeon picked up his instrument and began the operation.
Sara Rehman
Oct 18, 2023

Machine

A political organization arranged and controlled by one or more leaders for selfish, private or partisan ends; the Tammany machine.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 21, 2022

Instrument

A means by which something is achieved, performed, or furthered.
He considered his writing an instrument of change.
Sara Rehman
Oct 18, 2023

Machine

Supernatural agency in a poem, or a superhuman being introduced to perform some exploit.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 21, 2022

Instrument

A document or legal paper.
The official signed the instrument, finalizing the agreement.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 18, 2023

Machine

To subject to the action of machinery; to make, cut, shape, or modify with a machine; to effect by aid of machinery; to print with a printing machine.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 21, 2022

Machine

Any mechanical or electrical device that transmits or modifies energy to perform or assist in the performance of human tasks
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Dec 21, 2022

Machine

An intricate organization that accomplishes its goals efficiently;
The war machine
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Machine

An efficient person;
The boxer was a magnificent fighting machine
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Machine

4-wheeled motor vehicle; usually propelled by an internal combustion engine;
He needs a car to get to work
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Machine

A group that controls the activities of a political party;
He was endorsed by the Democratic machine
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Machine

A device for overcoming resistance at one point by applying force at some other point
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Machine

Turn, shape, mold, or otherwise finish by machinery
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Machine

Make by machinery;
The Americans were machining while others still hand-made cars
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Dec 21, 2022

Machine

A vehicle, such as an automobile or motorcycle.
He revved his machine before zooming down the road.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 18, 2023

Machine

A device that transmits or modifies force or motion.
The simple machine made the work much easier.
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Oct 18, 2023

FAQs

Is a musical instrument also considered an instrument in general context?

Yes, musical instruments fall under the broader category of instruments.
Harlon Moss
Oct 18, 2023

Are instruments only handheld?

Not always, some are larger or fixed in place, depending on their function.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 18, 2023

Can instruments be electronic?

Yes, many modern instruments are electronic for precision and convenience.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 18, 2023

Do all machines have moving parts?

Most do, but some machines function without mechanically moving components.
Harlon Moss
Oct 18, 2023

Does a machine operate autonomously?

Many machines do, but they generally require a human to initiate their operation.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 18, 2023

Do instruments require training to use?

Often, yes, especially for precision instruments like those used in surgery or scientific research.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 18, 2023

Is an instrument always used for scientific purposes?

No, instruments can also be musical, medical, or used in various other fields.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 18, 2023

Are all medical tools considered instruments?

Most are, as they’re used for precision tasks like examination, diagnosis, or surgery.
Janet White
Oct 18, 2023

Are all machines powered by electricity?

No, machines can be manually operated or powered by various sources.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 18, 2023

What's a simple machine?

It's a basic mechanical device for applying force, like a lever or pulley.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 18, 2023

What materials are instruments made from?

Various materials, including metal, plastic, or even glass, depending on their purpose.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 18, 2023

Can machines perform more than one task?

Yes, many machines are multifunctional.
Sara Rehman
Oct 18, 2023

Are machines found only in industries?

No, machines are ubiquitous, found in homes, offices, and many other places.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 18, 2023

Are machines replaceable with technology advancements?

Often, yes. As technology progresses, older machines can be replaced by more advanced models.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 18, 2023

Can an instrument be considered a machine?

Generally, no, as instruments are typically for precision tasks, not performing work through energy.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 18, 2023

Are instruments used in daily life?

Yes, from cooking utensils to thermometers, they’re common.
Harlon Moss
Oct 18, 2023

Do machines always need maintenance?

Generally, yes, to ensure efficient and safe operation.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 18, 2023

Can an instrument be automated like a machine?

Some modern instruments have automated features, but they generally require human oversight.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 18, 2023

Can a machine be a computer program?

In modern usage, yes, virtual or software-based systems are often called machines.
Harlon Moss
Oct 18, 2023

What powers a machine?

Various sources, including electricity, manual force, or even thermal power.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 18, 2023
About Author
Written by
Sawaira Riaz
Sawaira is a dedicated content editor at difference.wiki, where she meticulously refines articles to ensure clarity and accuracy. With a keen eye for detail, she upholds the site's commitment to delivering insightful and precise content.
Edited by
Sumera Saeed
Sumera is an experienced content writer and editor with a niche in comparative analysis. At Diffeence Wiki, she crafts clear and unbiased comparisons to guide readers in making informed decisions. With a dedication to thorough research and quality, Sumera's work stands out in the digital realm. Off the clock, she enjoys reading and exploring diverse cultures.

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