Implement, tool, instrument, appliance, utensil mean a relatively simple device for performing a mechanical or manual operation. Nearly all of these words (the distinct exception is appliance ) are interchangeable in their general senses, but custom and usage have greatly restricted them in their specific and most common applications.
An implement, in general, is anything that is requisite to effecting the end one has in view or to performing the work one undertakes. In specific use implement is the usual term when the reference is to a contrivance for tilling the soil (as a spade, a plow, a harrow, or a cultivator).
Historically it is the preferred term for any of the articles which are essential to the performance of a religious service. It is also the usual term for the devices made especially from stone or wood by primitive peoples as weapons or for use in digging, carrying, or lifting or in making clothing and equipment.
A tool, in general, is anything that facilitates the accomplishment of the end one has in view; it is therefore something particularly adapted in its nature or by its construction to make possible or relatively easy the work one is doing. In specific use tool is the preferred term when reference is made to the implements used by artisans (as carpenters and mechanics) or craftsmen in accomplishing a particular kind of work (as sawing, boring, piercing, or chipping).
Ordinarily tool suggests manipulation by the hand, but some machines for doing work that may be accomplished more slowly by manual labor and tools are called machine tools (as the lathe).
An instrument (see also MEAN 2 PAPER 1 ) is in general a delicately constructed device by means of which work (not exclusively a mechanical operation) may be accomplished with precision. Many instruments are by definition tools, but instrument is the preferred term among persons (as surgeons, dentists, draftsmen, surveyors, and artists) whose technique requires delicate tools and expertness and finesse in their manipulation. Some instruments, however, are not tools, but implements in the larger sense, for they are requisite to the achieving of definite purposes but do not necessarily facilitate any manual operations.
An appliance may be a device that adapts a tool or machine to a special purpose usually under the guidance of a hand; thus, a dentist’s drill may be called an appliance when it is attached to a dental engine; in industry an appliance is often distinguished from a tool, though they may both do the same kind of work, in that a tool is manipulated by hand and an appliance is moved and regulated by machinery. Additionally, an appliance may be a device or apparatus designed for a particular use and especially one (as a mechanical refrigerator or a vacuum cleaner) that utilizes an external power supply, especially an electric current.
A utensil is in general anything that is useful in accomplishing work (as cooking and cleaning) associated with the household; it may be applied to tools (as eggbeaters, graters, rolling pins, brooms, and mops) used in cookery and other household work, but it is most commonly applied to containers (as pots, pans, pails, and jars), especially those which form part of the kitchen, dairy, or bedroom equipment. Consequently utensil, in other than household use, often means a vessel.