An instrument is usually a tool for making music, like a piano or a guitar, but it can also be used for almost any kind of tool or thing you use to get something done.

A thermometer is an instrument for measuring temperature. A violin is an instrument used for making music. Recent economic woes were blamed on the abuse of certain financial instruments, which is just a fancy way of saying "deals." Your eye is a very sensitive light-collecting instrument, though you'll need a man-made instrument, like an X-ray telescope, if you want to see light outside of the visible spectrum.

Primary Meanings of instrument

the means whereby some act is accomplished
equip with instruments for measuring, recording, or controlling
(law) a document that states some contractual relationship or grants some right
address a legal document to
Full Definitions of instrument

n the means whereby some act is accomplished

“my greed was the instrument of my destruction”
Type of:
agency, means, way
how a result is obtained or an end is achieved

n a person used by another to gain an end

cat's-paw, pawn
Type of:
assistant, help, helper, supporter
a person who contributes to the fulfillment of a need or furtherance of an effort or purpose

n a device that requires skill for proper use

Big Ben
clock in the clock tower of the Houses of Parliament, London
the legendary sword of King Arthur
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analyser, analyzer
an instrument that performs analyses
cauterant, cautery
an instrument or substance used to destroy tissue for medical reasons (eg removal of a wart) by burning it with a hot iron or an electric current or a caustic or by freezing it
drafting instrument
an instrument used by a draftsman in making drawings
an instrument or machine that is used in warfare, such as a battering ram, catapult, artillery piece, etc.
an instrument for extracting tight-fitting components
instrument of execution
an instrument designed and used to take the life of a condemned person
instrument of punishment
an instrument designed and used to punish a condemned person
measuring device, measuring instrument, measuring system
instrument that shows the extent or amount or quantity or degree of something
medical instrument
instrument used in the practice of medicine
navigational instrument
an instrument used for navigating
optical instrument
an instrument designed to aid vision
an instrument (usually driven by a computer) for drawing graphs or pictures
scientific instrument
an instrument used by scientists
an instrument that uses the differential transmission and reflection of ultrasonic waves in order to provide an image of a bodily organ
surveying instrument, surveyor's instrument
an instrument used by surveyors
an instrument used to make tracings
arm, weapon, weapon system
any instrument or instrumentality used in fighting or hunting
an instrument with a handle and a flexible lash that is used for whipping
accelerator, atom smasher, particle accelerator
a scientific instrument that increases the kinetic energy of charged particles
an instrument for measuring the acceleration of aircraft or rockets
an instrument for measuring the intensity of electromagnetic radiation (usually by the photochemical effect)
device for measuring pain caused by pressure
alidad, alidade
surveying instrument used with a plane table for drawing lines of sight on a distant object and for measuring angles
alidad, alidade
surveying instrument consisting of the upper movable part of a theodolite including the telescope and its attachments
an instrument that measures the altitude and azimuth of celestial bodies; used in navigation
an instrument that measures the height above ground; used in navigation
artificial horizon, flight indicator, gyro horizon
a navigational instrument based on a gyroscope; it artificially provides a simulated horizon for the pilot
atmometer, evaporometer
an instrument that measures rate of evaporation of water
audiometer, sonometer
an instrument used to measure the sensitivity of hearing
ballistocardiograph, cardiograph
a medical instrument that measures the mechanical force of cardiac contractions and the amount of blood passing through the heart during a specified period by measuring the recoil of the body as blood is pumped from the ventricles
an instrument that measures atmospheric pressure
bathometer, bathymeter
an instrument that measures the depth of water
battering ram
a ram used to break down doors of fortified buildings
binoculars, field glasses, opera glasses
an optical instrument designed for simultaneous use by both eyes
an instrument that measures heat radiation; extremely sensitive
a weapon for shooting arrows, composed of a curved piece of resilient wood with a taut cord to propel the arrow
bow and arrow
a weapon consisting of arrows and the bow to shoot them
brass knuckles, brass knucks, knuckle duster, knuckles, knucks
a small metal weapon; worn over the knuckles on the back of the hand
a slender tubular instrument used to examine the bronchial tubes
buret, burette
measuring instrument consisting of a graduated glass tube with a tap at the bottom; used for titration
caliper, calliper
an instrument for measuring the distance between two points (often used in the plural)
a measuring instrument that determines quantities of heat
an instrument of punishment formerly used in China for petty criminals; consists of a heavy wooden collar enclosing the neck and arms
cardiograph, electrocardiograph
medical instrument that records electric currents associated with contractions of the heart
arbalest, arbalist, ballista, bricole, catapult, mangonel, onager, trebuchet, trebucket
an engine that provided medieval artillery used during sieges; a heavy war engine for hurling large stones and other missiles
cat, cat-o'-nine-tails
a whip with nine knotted cords
an instrument for accurate measurements of small intervals of time
clinometer, inclinometer
an instrument used by surveyors in order to measure an angle of inclination or elevation
colorimeter, tintometer
a measuring instrument used in colorimetric analysis to determine the quantity of a substance from the color it yields with specific reagents
navigational instrument for finding directions
drafting instrument used for drawing circles
a scientific instrument consisting of displays and an input device that an operator can use to monitor and control a system (especially a computer system)
counter tube
a measuring instrument for counting individual ionizing events
a heavy flexible whip braided from leather made from the hide of a cow
an instrument for measuring skull sizes
an instrument for destroying tissue by freezing it
a measuring instrument for measuring freezing and melting points
cucking stool, ducking stool
an instrument of punishment consisting of a chair in which offenders were ducked in water
declinometer, transit declinometer
an instrument for measuring magnetic declination
densimeter, densitometer
a measuring instrument for determining density or specific gravity
a measuring instrument for determining optical or photographic density
depth finder
navigational instrument used to measure the depth of a body of water (as by ultrasound or radar)
dialysis machine, dialyzer
a medical instrument for separating substances in solution by unequal diffusion through semipermeable membranes
diathermy machine
a medical instrument for local heating of bodily tissues for medical purposes
a drafting instrument resembling a compass that is used for dividing lines into equal segments or for transferring measurements
dosemeter, dosimeter
a measuring instrument for measuring doses of ionizing radiation (X-rays or radioactivity)
dynamometer, ergometer
measuring instrument designed to measure power
a sonograph that creates an image of the heart and its abnormalities
a sonograph that creates an image of the brain and its abnormalities
chair, death chair, electric chair, hot seat
an instrument of execution by electrocution; resembles an ordinary seat for one person
measuring instrument that uses the interaction of the magnetic fields of two coils to measure current or voltage or power
medical instrument that records electric currents generated by the brain
a medical instrument that records the electrical waves associated with the activity of skeletal muscles
measuring instrument that detects electric charge; two gold leaves diverge owing to repulsion of charges with like sign
a long slender medical instrument for examining the interior of a bodily organ or performing minor surgery
esophagoscope, oesophagoscope
an optical instrument for examining the inside of the esophagus
measuring instrument consisting of a graduated glass tube for measuring volume changes in chemical reactions between gases
a flexible medical instrument involving fiber optics that is used to examine internal organs
fire ship
a weapon consisting of a ship carrying explosives that is set adrift to destroy enemy ships
a weapon that squirts ignited fuel for several yards
an extractor consisting of a pair of pincers used in medical treatment (especially for the delivery of babies)
an instrument of execution consisting of a wooden frame from which a condemned person is executed by hanging
garotte, garrote, garrotte, iron collar
an instrument of execution for execution by strangulation
death chamber, gas chamber
instrument of execution consisting of a sealed chamber into which poison gas is introduced; used to kill people or animals
gage, gauge
a measuring instrument for measuring and indicating a quantity such as the thickness of wire or the amount of rain etc.
a measuring instrument for measuring fluid volume; a glass container (cup or cylinder or flask) whose sides are marked with or divided into amounts
gravimeter, gravity meter
a measuring instrument for measuring variations in the gravitational field of the earth
instrument of execution that consists of a weighted blade between two vertical poles; used for beheading people
a weapon that discharges a missile at high velocity (especially from a metal tube or barrel)
an instrument used to measure the angular separation of two stars that are too far apart to be included in the field of view of an ordinary telescope
haematocrit, hematocrit
a measuring instrument to determine (usually by centrifugation) the relative amounts of corpuscles and plasma in the blood
(physics) scientific instrument that traces the path of a charged particle
a whip for controlling horses
gravimeter, hydrometer
a measuring instrument for determining the specific gravity of a liquid or solid
measuring instrument for measuring the relative humidity of the atmosphere
dip circle, inclinometer
a measuring instrument for measuring the angle of magnetic dip (as from an airplane)
an instrument showing the angle that an aircraft makes with the horizon
instrument of torture
an instrument of punishment designed and used to inflict torture on the condemned person
integrator, planimeter
a measuring instrument for measuring the area of an irregular plane figure
any measuring instrument that uses interference patterns to make accurate measurements of waves
ionization chamber, ionization tube
a measuring instrument that measures the amount of ionizing radiation
jeweler's glass
an optical instrument used by jewelers; has one or more lenses and is used to view features not readily seen
measures thermal conductivity
medical instrument to examine the cornea in order to detect irregularities in its anterior surface
kicksorter, pulse height analyzer
scientific instrument consisting of an electronic circuit that permits only voltage pulses of predetermined height to pass
a weapon with a handle and blade with a sharp point
a whip with a lash of leather thongs twisted with wire; used for flogging prisoners
Kundt's tube
a measuring instrument used to measure the speed of sound
cymograph, kymograph
scientific instrument consisting of a rotating drum holding paper on which a stylus traces a continuous record (as of breathing or blood pressure)
a medical instrument for examining the larynx
a measuring system that detects and locates objects on the same principle as radar but uses light from a laser; a potential technology for detecting air turbulence that can affect aircraft
light arm
a rifle or pistol
measuring instrument that consists of a float that trails from a ship by a knotted line in order to measure the ship's speed through the water
a scientific instrument that registers magnetic variations (especially variations of the earth's magnetic field)
a scientific instrument that magnifies an image
measure, measuring rod, measuring stick
measuring instrument having a sequence of marks at regular intervals; used as a reference in making measurements
any of various measuring instruments for measuring a quantity
scientific instrument that cuts thin slices of something for microscopic examination
a rocket carrying a warhead of conventional or nuclear explosives; may be ballistic or directed by remote control
a measuring instrument that uses a grid for measuring the altitude, direction, and velocity of movement of clouds
a measuring instrument for measuring angles to a celestial body; similar to a sextant but with 45 degree calibration
medical instrument for examining the retina of the eye
auriscope, auroscope, otoscope
medical instrument consisting of a magnifying lens and light; used for examining the external ear (the auditory meatus and especially the tympanic membrane)
a measuring instrument that measures the oxygen in arterial blood
an instrument of punishment consisting of a flat board
measuring instrument for recording the number of steps taken in walking
measuring instrument for performing pelvimetry
an optical instrument that provides a view of an otherwise obstructed field
measuring instrument for measuring the luminous intensity of a source by comparing it (visually or photoelectrically) with a standard source
a measuring instrument for measuring high pressures
medieval weapon consisting of a spearhead attached to a long pole or pikestaff; superseded by the bayonet
a wooden instrument of punishment on a post with holes for the wrists and neck; offenders were locked in and so exposed to public scorn
pipet, pipette
measuring instrument consisting of a graduated glass tube used to measure or transfer precise volumes of a liquid by drawing the liquid up into the tube
Pitot head, Pitot tube, Pitot-static tube
measuring instrument consisting of a combined Pitot tube and static tube that measures total and static pressure; used in aircraft to measure airspeed
Pitot, Pitot tube
measuring instrument consisting of a right-angled tube with an open end that is directed in opposition to the flow of a fluid and used to measure the velocity of fluid flow
plane table
surveying instrument consisting of a drawing board and a ruler that are mounted on a tripod; used to sight and map topographical details
a measuring instrument for measuring changes in volume of a part or organ or whole body (usually resulting from fluctuations in the amount of blood it contains)
a medical instrument that records several physiological processes simultaneously (e.g., pulse rate and blood pressure and respiration and perspiration)
a measuring instrument for measuring direct current electromotive forces
missile, projectile
a weapon that is forcibly thrown or projected at a targets but is not self-propelled
an optical instrument that projects an enlarged image onto a screen
drafting instrument used to draw or measure angles
a measuring instrument for measuring altitude of heavenly bodies
whip with a leather thong at the end
microwave radar, radar, radio detection and ranging, radiolocation
measuring instrument in which the echo of a pulse of microwave radiation is used to detect and locate distant objects
range finder, rangefinder
a measuring instrument (acoustic or optical or electronic) for finding the distance of an object
flagpole, range pole, ranging pole
surveying instrument consisting of a straight rod painted in bands of alternate red and white each one foot wide; used for sightings by surveyors
measuring instrument for measuring the refractive index of a substance
an instrument for measuring the flow of liquids (especially arterial blood)
medical instrument consisting of a mirror mounted at an angle on a rod; used to examine the nasal passages (through the nasopharynx)
hunting crop, riding crop
a short whip with a thong at the end and a handle for opening gates
scale, weighing machine
a measuring instrument for weighing; shows amount of mass
a measuring instrument that measures the hardness of materials by penetrating them with a stylus that has a diamond point
flagellum, scourge
a whip used to inflict punishment (often used for pedantic humor)
searing iron
a hot iron used to destroy tissue
measuring instrument consisting of two graduated arms hinged at one end
a measuring instrument for detecting and measuring the intensity and direction and duration of movements of the ground (as an earthquake)
a measuring instrument for measuring the light sensitivity of film over a range of exposures
a measuring instrument for measuring the angular distance between celestial objects; resembles an octant
an optical instrument for aiding the eye in aiming, as on a firearm or surveying instrument
a weapon (a sword or dagger) used for slashing
a simple weapon consisting of a looped strap in which a projectile is whirled and then released
asdic, echo sounder, sonar
a measuring instrument that sends out an acoustic pulse in water and measures distances in terms of the time for the echo of the pulse to return
lance, shaft, spear
a long pointed rod used as a tool or weapon
eyeglasses, glasses, specs, spectacles
optical instrument consisting of a frame that holds a pair of lenses for correcting defective vision
prism spectroscope, spectroscope
an optical instrument for spectrographic analysis
a medical instrument for dilating a bodily passage or cavity in order to examine the interior
a measuring instrument for measuring the curvature of a surface
a measuring instrument for recording the depth and rapidity of breathing movements
a measuring instrument for measuring the vital capacity of the lungs
instrument of execution consisting of a vertical post that a victim is tied to for burning
static tube
a measuring instrument used to measure static pressure in a stream of fluid
a medical instrument for listening to the sounds generated inside the body
a former instrument of punishment consisting of a heavy timber frame with holes in which the feet (and sometimes the hands) of an offender could be locked
whip consisting of a strip of leather used in flogging
strobe, strobe light, stroboscope
scientific instrument that provides a flashing light synchronized with the periodic movement of an object; can make moving object appear stationary
stun baton, stun gun
a weapon designed to disable a victim temporarily by delivering a nonlethal high-voltage electric shock
surgical instrument
a medical instrument used in surgery
surveyor's level
surveying instrument consisting basically of a small telescope with an attached spirit level rotating around a vertical axis; for measuring relative heights of land
a flexible implement used as an instrument of punishment
blade, brand, steel, sword
a cutting or thrusting weapon that has a long metal blade and a hilt with a hand guard
synchroniser, synchronizer, synchronoscope, synchroscope
an instrument that indicates whether two periodic motions are synchronous (especially an instrument that enables a pilot to synchronize the propellers of a plane that has two or more engines)
a medical instrument used to inject or withdraw fluids
t-scope, tachistoscope
scientific instrument used by psychologists; presents visual stimuli for brief exposures
tach, tachometer
measuring instrument for indicating speed of rotation
tape, tape measure, tapeline
measuring instrument consisting of a narrow strip (cloth or metal) marked in inches or centimeters and used for measuring lengths
any scientific instrument for observing events at a distance and transmitting the information back to the observer
a measuring instrument for measuring the surface tension of a liquid
a measuring instrument for measuring the tension in a wire or fiber or beam
a measuring instrument for measuring the moisture content of soil
theodolite, transit
a surveying instrument for measuring horizontal and vertical angles, consisting of a small telescope mounted on a tripod
medical instrument that uses an infrared camera to reveal temperature variations on the surface of the body
measuring instrument for measuring temperature
horologe, timekeeper, timepiece
a measuring instrument or device for keeping time
hatchet, tomahawk
weapon consisting of a fighting ax; used by North American Indians
measuring instrument for measuring tension or pressure (especially for measuring intraocular pressure in testing for glaucoma)
torsion balance
measuring instrument designed to measure small forces by the torsion they exert on a thin wire
any of various triangular drafting instruments used to draw straight lines at specified angles
a square used by draftsmen to draw parallel lines
a measuring instrument for measuring variations in a magnetic field
Venturi tube
a short tube inserted into a pipeline and used to measure the quantity of a liquid that is flowing in the pipeline
viscometer, viscosimeter
a measuring instrument for measuring viscosity
an instrument for measuring in watts the flow of power in an electrical circuit
W.M.D., WMD, weapon of mass destruction
a weapon that kills or injures civilian as well as military personnel (nuclear and chemical and biological weapons)
Greek fire
a mixture used by Byzantine Greeks that was often shot at adversaries; catches fire when wetted
Type of:
an instrumentality invented for a particular purpose

n any of various devices or contrivances that can be used to produce musical tones or sounds

musical instrument
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barrel organ, grind organ, hand organ, hurdy gurdy, hurdy-gurdy, street organ
a musical instrument that makes music by rotation of a cylinder studded with pegs
the member with the lowest range of a family of musical instruments
calliope, steam organ
a musical instrument consisting of a series of steam whistles played from a keyboard
electronic instrument, electronic musical instrument
a musical instrument that generates sounds electronically
jew's harp, jews' harp, mouth bow
a small lyre-shaped musical instrument that is placed between the teeth and played by twanging a wire tongue while changing the shape of the mouth cavity
keyboard instrument
a musical instrument that is played by means of a keyboard
music box, musical box
produces music by means of pins on a revolving cylinder that strike the tuned teeth of a comb-like metal plate
percussion instrument, percussive instrument
a musical instrument in which the sound is produced by one object striking another
stringed instrument
a musical instrument in which taut strings provide the source of sound
wind, wind instrument
a musical instrument in which the sound is produced by an enclosed column of air that is moved by the breath
accordion, piano accordion, squeeze box
a portable box-shaped free-reed instrument; the reeds are made to vibrate by air from the bellows controlled by the player
a stringed instrument of the guitar family that has long neck and circular body
bass fiddle, bass viol, bull fiddle, contrabass, double bass, string bass
largest and lowest member of the violin family
bass guitar
the guitar with six strings that has the lowest pitch
bass horn, sousaphone, tuba
the lowest brass wind instrument
bombard, bombardon
a large shawm; the bass member of the shawm family
bones, castanets, clappers, finger cymbals
a percussion instrument consisting of a pair of hollow pieces of wood or bone (usually held between the thumb and fingers) that are made to click together (as by Spanish dancers) in rhythm with the dance
bowed stringed instrument, string
stringed instruments that are played with a bow
brass, brass instrument
a wind instrument that consists of a brass tube (usually of variable length) that is blown by means of a cup-shaped or funnel-shaped mouthpiece
a musical instrument consisting of graduated steel plates that are struck by hammers activated by a keyboard
bell, chime, gong
a percussion instrument consisting of a set of tuned bells that are struck with a hammer; used as an orchestral instrument
a stringed instrument of the group including harps, lutes, lyres, and zithers
an early stringed instrument like a piano but with more delicate sound
Klavier, clavier
a stringed instrument that has a keyboard
a percussion instrument consisting of a concave brass disk; makes a loud crashing sound when hit with a drumstick or when two are struck together
drum, membranophone, tympan
a musical percussion instrument; usually consists of a hollow cylinder with a membrane stretched across each end
a stringed instrument used in American folk music; an elliptical body and a fretted fingerboard and three strings
Hammond organ, electric organ, electronic organ, organ
(music) an electronic simulation of a pipe organ
free-reed instrument
a wind instrument with a free reed
glockenspiel, orchestral bells
a percussion instrument consisting of a set of graduated metal bars mounted on a frame and played with small hammers
gong, tam-tam
a percussion instrument consisting of a metal plate that is struck with a softheaded drumstick
a stringed instrument usually having six strings; played by strumming or plucking
a toy wind instrument that has a membrane that makes a sound when you hum into the mouthpiece
kettle, kettledrum, timpani, tympani, tympanum
a large hemispherical brass or copper percussion instrument with a drumhead that can be tuned by adjusting the tension on it
Japanese stringed instrument that resembles a zither; has a rectangular wooden sounding board and usually 13 silk strings that are plucked with the fingers
an Australian percussion instrument used for playing bush music; a long stick with bottle caps nailed loosely to it; played by hitting it with a stick or banging it on the ground
a percussion instrument consisting of a hollow gourd containing pebbles or beans; often played in pairs
marimba, xylophone
a percussion instrument with wooden bars tuned to produce a chromatic scale and with resonators; played with small mallets
ocarina, sweet potato
egg-shaped terra cotta wind instrument with a mouthpiece and finger holes
organ, pipe organ
wind instrument whose sound is produced by means of pipes arranged in sets supplied with air from a bellows and controlled from a large complex musical keyboard
organ pipe, pipe, pipework
the flues and stops on a pipe organ
forte-piano, piano, pianoforte
a keyboard instrument that is played by depressing keys that cause hammers to strike tuned strings and produce sounds
a tubular wind instrument
post horn
wind instrument used by postilions of the 18th and 19th centuries
an ancient stringed instrument similar to the lyre or zither but having a trapezoidal sounding board under the strings
rain stick
a percussion instrument that is made from a dried cactus branch that is hollowed out and filled with small pebbles and capped at both ends; makes the sound of falling rain when tilted; origin was in Chile where tribesmen used it in ceremonies to bring rain
samisen, shamisen
a Japanese stringed instrument resembling a banjo with a long neck and three strings and a fretted fingerboard and a rectangular soundbox; played with a plectrum
a stringed instrument of India; has a long neck and movable frets; has 6 or 7 metal strings for playing and usually 13 resonating strings
steel drum
a concave percussion instrument made from the metal top of an oil drum; has an array of flattened areas that produce different tones when struck (of Caribbean origin)
synthesiser, synthesizer
(music) an electronic instrument (usually played with a keyboard) that generates and modifies sounds electronically and can imitate a variety of other musical instruments
an electronic musical instrument; melodies can be played by moving the right hand between two rods that serve as antennas to control pitch; the left hand controls phrasing
a percussion instrument consisting of a metal bar bent in the shape of an open triangle
vibes, vibraharp, vibraphone
a percussion instrument similar to a xylophone but having metal bars and rotating disks in the resonators that produce a vibrato sound
a small wind instrument that produces a whistling sound by blowing into it
wood, woodwind, woodwind instrument
any wind instrument other than the brass instruments
cither, zither, zithern
a musical stringed instrument with strings stretched over a flat sounding board; it is laid flat and played with a plectrum and with fingers
Type of:
an instrumentality invented for a particular purpose

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

instrumental role
Type of:
participant role, semantic role
(linguistics) the underlying relation that a constituent has with the main verb in a clause

v equip with instruments for measuring, recording, or controlling

Type of:
equip, fit, fit out, outfit
provide with (something) usually for a specific purpose

v write an instrumental score for

Type of:
compose, write
write music

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

legal document, legal instrument, official document
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Epistle of Paul the Apostle to Philemon
a New Testament book containing an epistle from Saint Paul to Philemon asking Philemon to forgive the slave for escaping
the oldest Greek version of the Old Testament; said to have been translated from the Hebrew by Jewish scholars at the request of Ptolemy II
Articles of Confederation
a written agreement ratified in 1781 by the thirteen original states; it provided a legal symbol of their union by giving the central government no coercive power over the states or their citizens
Constitution of the United States
the constitution written at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787 and subsequently ratified by the original thirteen states
Peace of Westphalia
the peace treaty that ended the Thirty Years' War in 1648
Chemical Weapons Convention
a global treaty banning the production or acquisition or stockpiling or transfer or use of chemical weapons
Geneva Convention
an agreement first drawn up in Geneva in 1864 and later revised concerning the treatment of captured and wounded military personnel and civilians in wartime
Lateran Treaty
the agreement signed in the Lateran Palace in 1929 by Italy and the Holy See which recognized the Vatican City as a sovereign and independent papal state
North Atlantic Treaty
the treaty signed in 1949 by 12 countries that established NATO
the first treaty between the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics resulting from the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks
the second treaty between the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics resulting from the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks
Treaty of Versailles
the treaty imposed on Germany by the Allied powers in 1920 after the end of World War I which demanded exorbitant reparations from the Germans
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articles of incorporation
a legal document that creates a corporation; it is filed with a state by the founders of a corporation and is governed by the laws of the state
derivative, derivative instrument
a financial instrument whose value is based on another security
negotiable instrument
an unconditional order or promise to pay an amount of money
a document issued by a country to a citizen allowing that person to travel abroad and re-enter the home country
ship's papers
official papers which a ship is legally required to have; related to ownership, cargo, etc.
a customs document listing the contents put on a ship or plane
a certificate or voucher acknowledging a debt
power of attorney
a legal instrument authorizing someone to act as the grantor's agent
letters of administration
legal document naming someone to administer an estate when no executor has been named
letters testamentary
a legal document from a probate court or court officer informing you of your appointment as executor of a will and empowering you to discharge those responsibilities
work papers, work permit, working papers
a legal document giving information required for employment of certain people in certain countries
act, enactment
a legal document codifying the result of deliberations of a committee or society or legislative body
legal document setting forth rules governing a particular kind of activity
bill, measure
a statute in draft before it becomes law
brief, legal brief
a document stating the facts and points of law of a client's case
testament, will
a legal document declaring a person's wishes regarding the disposal of their property when they die
living will
a document written by someone still legally capable requesting that he should be allowed to die if subsequently severely disabled or suffering terminal illness
deed, deed of conveyance, title
a legal document signed and sealed and delivered to effect a transfer of property and to show the legal right to possess it
the instrument by which a claim or right or interest or property is transferred from one person to another
deed of trust, trust deed
a written instrument legally conveying property to a trustee often used to secure an obligation such as a mortgage or promissory note
document effecting a property transfer
income tax return, return, tax return
document giving the tax collector information about the taxpayer's tax liability
licence, license, permit
a legal document giving official permission to do something
letters patent, patent
an official document granting a right or privilege
judgement, judgment, legal opinion, opinion
the legal document stating the reasons for a judicial decision
acquittance, release
a legal document evidencing the discharge of a debt or obligation
judicial writ, writ
(law) a legal document issued by a court or judicial officer
authorisation, authorization, mandate
a document giving an official instruction or command
written declaration made under oath; a written statement sworn to be true before someone legally authorized to administer an oath
written agreement
a legal document summarizing the agreement between parties
bill of indictment, indictment
a formal document written for a prosecuting attorney charging a person with some offense
a formal document charging a public official with misconduct in office
a legal document calling someone to court to answer an indictment
certificate, security
a formal declaration that documents a fact of relevance to finance and investment; the holder has a right to receive interest or dividends
Old Testament
the collection of books comprising the sacred scripture of the Hebrews and recording their history as the chosen people; the first half of the Christian Bible
New Testament
the collection of books of the Gospels, Acts of the Apostles, the Pauline and other epistles, and Revelation; composed soon after Christ's death; the second half of the Christian Bible
futures contract
an agreement to buy or sell a specific amount of a commodity or financial instrument at a particular price on a stipulated future date; the contract can be sold before the settlement date
a binding agreement between two or more persons that is enforceable by law
stock power
a power of attorney document to transfer ownership of a registered security from the owner to another party
a power of attorney document given by shareholders of a corporation authorizing a specific vote on their behalf at a corporate meeting
something that is null (especially an enactment that has no legal validity)
anti-drug law
a law forbidding the sale or use of narcotic drugs
RICO, RICO Act, Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, anti-racketeering law
law intended to eradicate organized crime by establishing strong sanctions and forfeiture provisions
antitrust law, antitrust legislation
law intended to promote free competition in the market place by outlawing monopolies
statute of limitations
a statute prescribing the time period during which legal action can be taken
constitution, fundamental law, organic law
law determining the fundamental political principles of a government
public law
a law affecting the public at large
appropriation bill
a legislative act proposing to authorize the expenditure of public funds for a specified purpose
bill of attainder
a legislative act finding a person guilty of treason or felony without a trial
bottle bill
a statute that would require merchants to reclaim used bottles
farm bill
a statute that would regulate farm production and prices
trade bill
a statute that would regulate foreign trade
blue law
a statute regulating work on Sundays
blue sky law
a state law regulating the sale of securities in an attempt to control the sale of securities in fraudulent enterprises
gag law
any law that limits freedom of the press
homestead law
a law conferring privileges on owners of homesteads
poor law
a law providing support for the poor
Riot Act
a former English law requiring mobs to disperse after a magistrate reads the law to them
court order
a writ issued by a court of law requiring a person to do something or to refrain from doing something
decree, edict, fiat, order, rescript
a legally binding command or decision entered on the court record (as if issued by a court or judge)
a law forbidding the sale of alcoholic beverages
amicus curiae brief
a brief presented by someone interested in influencing the outcome of a lawsuit but who is not a party to it
bill of sale
a deed transferring personal property
deed poll
a deed made and executed by only one party
under the feudal system, the deed by which a person was given land in exchange for a pledge of service
mortgage deed
deed embodying a mortgage
title deed
a legal document proving a person's right to property
quitclaim, quitclaim deed
document transferring title or right or claim to another
a writ from a court commanding police to perform specified acts
amended return
a tax return that corrects the information in an earlier return
declaration of estimated tax, estimated tax return
return required of a taxpayer whose tax withheld from income does not meet the tax liability for the year
false return
an incorrect income tax return
information return
a return that provides information to the tax collector but does not compute the tax liability
joint return
a return filed by a husband and wife
building permit
a document authorizing the holder to construct a building of a particular kind on a particular lot
driver's licence, driver's license, driving licence, driving license
a license authorizing the bearer to drive a motor vehicle
fishing licence, fishing license, fishing permit
a license authorizing the bearer to fish during a specified period of time
game license, hunting licence, hunting license, hunting permit
a license authorizing the bearer to kill a certain type of animal during a specified period of time
learner's permit
a document authorizing the bearer to learn to drive an automobile
letter of mark and reprisal, letter of marque, letters of marque
a license to a private citizen to seize property of another nation
liquor licence, liquor license
a license authorizing the holder to sell alcoholic beverages
marriage licence, marriage license, wedding licence, wedding license
a license authorizing two people to marry
occupation licence, occupation license
a license to pursue a particular occupation
concurring opinion
an opinion that agrees with the court's disposition of the case but is written to express a particular judge's reasoning
dissenting opinion
an opinion that disagrees with the court's disposition of the case
majority opinion
the opinion joined by a majority of the court (generally known simply as `the opinion')
an ancient writ issued by a court of assize to the sheriff for the recovery of property
certiorari, writ of certiorari
a common law writ issued by a superior court to one of inferior jurisdiction demanding the record of a particular case
habeas corpus, writ of habeas corpus
a writ ordering a prisoner to be brought before a judge
venire facias
a judicial writ ordering a sheriff to summon people for jury duty
mandamus, writ of mandamus
an extraordinary writ commanding an official to perform a ministerial act that the law recognizes as an absolute duty and not a matter for the official's discretion; used only when all other judicial remedies fail
a writ authorizing the seizure of property that may be needed for the payment of a judgment in a judicial proceeding
fieri facias
a writ ordering a levy on the belongings of a debtor to satisfy the debt
scire facias
a judicial writ based on some record and requiring the party against whom it is brought to show cause why the record should not be enforced or annulled
a writ that authorizes the seizure of property
writ of detinue
a writ ordering the release of goods that have been unlawfully detained
writ of election
a writ ordering the holding of an election
writ of error
a judicial writ from an appellate court ordering the court of record to produce the records of trial
writ of prohibition
a judicial writ from a higher court ordering a lower court not to exercise jurisdiction in a particular case
writ of right
a writ ordering that land be restored to its rightful owner
process, summons
a writ issued by authority of law; usually compels the defendant's attendance in a civil suit; failure to appear results in a default judgment against the defendant
subpoena, subpoena ad testificandum
a writ issued by court authority to compel the attendance of a witness at a judicial proceeding; disobedience may be punishable as a contempt of court
subpoena duces tecum
a writ issued by a court at the request of one of the parties to a suit; it requires a witness to bring to court or to a deposition any relevant documents under the witness's control
legislative act, statute
an act passed by a legislative body
liberty chit, pass
a permit to enter or leave a military installation
(law) an affidavit attached to a statement confirming the truth of that statement
(Islam) a legal opinion or ruling issued by an Islamic scholar
dictum, obiter dictum
an opinion voiced by a judge on a point of law not directly bearing on the case in question and therefore not binding
a legal document summarizing an agreement between parties in a dispute to abide by the decision of an arbiter
compact, concordat, covenant
a signed written agreement between two or more parties (nations) to perform some action
formal agreement between the issuer of bonds and the bondholders as to terms of the debt
a legal agreement specifying a payment or action and the penalty for failure to comply
accord, pact, treaty
a written agreement between two states or sovereigns
murder charge, murder indictment
an indictment charging someone with murder
true bill
an indictment endorsed by a grand jury
the right to buy or sell property at an agreed price; the right is purchased and if it is not exercised by a stated date the money is forfeited
agency security, government security
a security issued by United States government agencies or the Farm Credit System
mortgage-backed security
a security created when a group of mortgages are gathered together and bonds are sold to other institutions or the public; investors receive a portion of the interest payments on the mortgages as well as the principal payments; usually guaranteed by the government
registered security
a security whose owner's name is recorded on the books of the issuer (or issuer's agent)
bill of exchange, draft, order of payment
a document ordering the payment of money; drawn by one person or bank on another
a written agreement (or property or money) delivered to a third party or put in trust by one party to a contract to be returned after fulfillment of some condition
a will disposing of real property
a certificate whose value is recognized by the payer and payee; scrip is not currency but may be convertible into currency
stock, stock certificate
a certificate documenting the shareholder's ownership in the corporation
tax-exempt, tax-exempt security
a security that is not subject to taxation
bond, bond certificate
a certificate of debt (usually interest-bearing or discounted) that is issued by a government or corporation in order to raise money; the issuer is required to pay a fixed sum annually until maturity and then a fixed sum to repay the principal
zero coupon security, zero-coupon security
a security that makes no interest payments but instead is sold at a deep discount from its face value
partnership certificate
a certificate showing the interests of all parties in a business partnership
proprietorship certificate
a certificate showing who is responsible in an individually owned business
convertible, convertible security
a corporate security (usually bonds or preferred stock) that can be exchanged for another form of security (usually common stock)
letter security
a stock or bond that is not registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission and cannot be sold in the public market
listed security
a security that has been accepted for trading by one of the organized and registered securities exchanges in the US
OTC security, over the counter security, unlisted security
a security traded in the over-the-counter market
Type of:
document, papers, written document
writing that provides information (especially information of an official nature)

v address a legal document to

Type of:
address, direct
put an address on (an envelope)

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