AskDefine | Define tools

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. Plural of tool


  1. third-person singular of tool


Extensive Definition

A tool is a device or a piece of equipment that typically provides a mechanical advantage in accomplishing a task or enables the accomplishment of a task not otherwise possible. The most basic tools are simple machines. For example, a crowbar simply functions as a lever. The further out from the pivot point, the more force is transmitted along the lever. When particularly intended for domestic use, a tool is often called a utensil.
Observation has confirmed that multiple species can use tools, including monkeys, apes, several birds, sea otters, and others. Philosophers originally thought that only humans had the ability to make tools, until zoologists observed birds and monkeys making tools. Now humans' unique relationship to tools is considered to be that we are the only species that uses tools to make other tools.
Most anthropologists believe that the use of tools was an important step in the evolution of mankind. Humans evolved an opposable thumb - useful in holding tools - and increased dramatically in intelligence, which aided in the use of tools.


Protective gear are not tools because they do not directly help perform work, just protect the worker like ordinary clothing. Personal protective equipment, such as gloves, safety glasses, ear defenders and biohazard suits.

Tool substitution

Often, by design or coincidence, a tool may share key functional attributes with one or more other tools. In this case, some tools can substitute for other tools, either as a make-shift solution or as a matter of practical efficiency. "One tool does it all" is a motto of some importance for workers who cannot practically carry every specialized tool to the location of every work task. Tool substitution may be divided broadly into two classes: substitution "by-design", or "multi-purpose" use, and substitution as make-shift. In many cases, the designed secondary functions of tools are not widely known. As an example of the former, many wood-cutting hand saws integrate a carpenter's square by incorporating a specially shaped handle which allows 90° and 45° angles to be marked by aligning the appropriate part of the handle with an edge and scribing along the back edge of the saw. The latter is illustrated by the saying "All tools can be used as hammers." Nearly all tools can be re purposed to function as a hammer, even though very few tools are intentionally designed for it.

Multi-use tools

  • A Multitool is a hand tool that incorporates several tools into a single, portable device.
  • Lineman's pliers incorporate a gripper and cutter, and are often used secondarily as a hammer.
  • Hand saws often incorporate the functionality of the carpenter's square in the right-angle between the blade's dull edge and the saw's handle.


Evidence of stone tool manufacture and use dates from the start of the Stone Age, though it is possible that earlier tools of less durable material have not survived. Stone tools found in China magnetostratigraphically date back to approximately 1.36 million years ago. The transition from stone to metal tools roughly coincided with the development of agriculture around the 4th millennium BC.
Mechanical devices experienced a major expansion in their use in the Middle Ages with the systematic employment of new energy sources: water (waterwheels) and wind (windmills).
Machine tools occasioned a surge in producing new tools in the industrial revolution. Advocates of nanotechnology expect a similar surge as tools become microscopic in size.


tools in Azerbaijani: Alət
tools in Min Nan: Ke-si
tools in Bosnian: Alat
tools in Catalan: Eina (utensili)
tools in Czech: Nástroj
tools in Danish: Værktøj
tools in German: Werkzeug
tools in Estonian: Tööriist
tools in Modern Greek (1453-): Εργαλείο
tools in Spanish: Herramienta
tools in Esperanto: Laborilo
tools in Basque: Tresna
tools in French: Outil
tools in Scottish Gaelic: Acfhainn
tools in Korean: 도구
tools in Croatian: Alat
tools in Ido: Utensilo
tools in Icelandic: Verkfæri
tools in Italian: Utensile
tools in Hebrew: כלי
tools in Latvian: Darbarīks
tools in Limburgan: Gereidsjap
tools in Hungarian: Szerszám
tools in Dutch: Gereedschap
tools in Dutch Low Saxon: Raaive
tools in Japanese: 道具
tools in Norwegian: Redskap
tools in Norwegian Nynorsk: Reiskap
tools in Narom: Ôti
tools in Polish: Narzędzie
tools in Portuguese: Ferramenta
tools in Quechua: Irraminta
tools in Russian: Инструмент
tools in Sicilian: Arnisi
tools in Simple English: Tool
tools in Slovak: Nástroj
tools in Slovenian: Orodje
tools in Serbian: Alat
tools in Serbo-Croatian: Alat
tools in Finnish: Työkalu
tools in Swedish: Verktyg
tools in Cherokee: ᎪᎱᏍᏗ ᎬᏔᏂᏓᏍᏗ
tools in Turkish: Âlet
tools in Yiddish: ווערקצייג
tools in Contenese: 架生
tools in Chinese: 工具
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