Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Device and Instrument

The world has benefitted from innovation in massive ways. Tasks that would take a lot of human effort and consume too much time have been simplified. The most common innovation currently involves technological advancements. Human beings have also developed devices and instruments which have simplified work or assisted in a task in one way or another. Although the terms devices and instruments are often used synonymously, they have differences, as outlined in this article. 

What is a Device?

This is an electrical or mechanical item created to fulfil a particular purpose in various fields. Devices are classified into:

  • Technological devices- Examples include computing, warfare devices such as nuclear weapons and medical devices, just to name a few. 
  • Arts, media and entertainment devices

Commonly used devices include computers and smartphones. Although designed to carry out specific tasks, they require human effort for execution. 

What is an Instrument?

This is a mechanical tool used for precision or delicate work. Although there is a wide array of instruments, technology, science and musical instruments are more popular. 

Examples of technological and science technology include; 

  • Laboratory equipment- these are used to measure specimens in the laboratories 
  • Measuring equipment- These are used to compare or measure physical properties
  • Surgical instrument- Used in medical surgeries
  • Mathematical instrument- these are used in navigation, astrology and surveying
  • Optical instrument- Used to measure light and its properties
  • Weather instrument- These are used to measure and record weather aspects
  • Vehicle instrument- This measure vehicle parameters such as position or speed

Examples of musical instruments include percussion instrument, transporting instrument, wind instrument and percussion instrument. These are designed and used to produce musical sounds. 

An instrument can also be used in the financial context whereby it refers to a financial transaction or a formal document. In the legal context, an instrument refers to a status of a transaction or a formal document. 

Similarities between Device and Instrument

  • Both are as a result of innovation
  • Both aid human effort in carrying out tasks

Differences between Device and Instrument


A device refers to a tool constructed and used for delicate work in various fields. On the other hand, an instrument refers to a mechanical tool used for precision or delicate work. 

Device and Instrument: Comparison Table

Summary of Device and Instrument

A device refers to a tool constructed and used for delicate work in various fields. On the other hand, an instrument refers to a mechanical tool used for precision or delicate work. Both, however, aid human effort in carrying out tasks. 

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References :

[0]Gail Baura. Medical Device Technologies: A Systems Based Overview Using Engineering Standards. Academic Press, 2011. https://books.google.co.ke/books?id=8CR-G0FAVdgC&pg=PA3&dq=Difference+between+Device+and+Instrument&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiErruOnt_rAhVfDmMBHdcpD5MQ6AEwAXoECAAQAg#v=onepage&q=Difference%20between%20Device%20and%20Instrument&f=false

[1]Bella Liptak. Instrument Engineers' Handbook, Volume Three: Process Software and Digital Networks. CRC Press, 2002. https://books.google.co.ke/books?id=KPjLAyA7HgoC&pg=PA465&dq=Difference+between+Device+and+Instrument&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiErruOnt_rAhVfDmMBHdcpD5MQ6AEwAnoECAEQAg#v=onepage&q=Difference%20between%20Device%20and%20Instrument&f=false

[2]John Webster. The Measurement, Instrumentation, and Sensors: Handbook. Springer Science & Business Media, 1999. https://books.google.co.ke/books?id=b7UuZzf9ivIC&pg=SA2-PA7&dq=Difference+between+Device+and+Instrument&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiErruOnt_rAhVfDmMBHdcpD5MQ6AEwAHoECAYQAg#v=onepage&q=Difference%20between%20Device%20and%20Instrument&f=false

[3]Image credit: https://cdn.pixabay.com/photo/2013/07/13/09/47/barograph-156000_1280.png

[4]Image credit: https://cdn.pixabay.com/photo/2014/05/02/21/50/home-office-336378__340.jpg

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