from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Success story over thousands of years: the hand ax
Still life with sewing utensils , Wilhelm Wittmann, 1889

A tool is an object that does not belong to the body of a living or artificial organism , with the help of which the functions of the body are expanded in order to achieve an immediate goal in this way.

A collection of different tools that are necessary for a specific activity is called a tool set . In industry, the tools used are documented in a tool management system .

To the subject

The word 'tool' appears from the 12th century. In some contexts, tools are also referred to as instruments (often as part of a set of instruments), e.g. B. surgical and dental instruments (such as the drill ) or observation instruments , the English word tool is also used here . For the equipment , the set of tools necessary for a task, instruments (Latin) or as a collective term the apparatus and the English term equipment are in use. Obsolete also has the tools , (see. Armor ), to stuff , the word for "Neuter concrete nouns" which is also contained in, tool ', and many more archaic and technical language expressions for tool sets various fields. 'Stuff' itself is with Engl. toy ' toy ' related.

In contrast to the device , tools are mostly “ simple machines ”, ie devices that are based on fundamental principles of the theory of forces . Typical forms of mechanical action are holding, moving or reshaping, cutting / separating, connecting and other processes that are summarized under the term manufacturing process .

Another scope of definition includes aids of all kinds. This would also include measuring tools , but also a mathematical formula set or a numerical model or a skill . In this sense, the tool can be interpreted as an improvement or expansion of an existing or as a replacement for a missing physical or mental function. For example, a hammer enlarges the fist, a pair of tweezers enlarges the thumb and fingers, a crane does more than an arm, and a storage medium supplements memory. In the most general sense, tool stands for “means to an end”, then also for people and processes in the abstract sense.

The study of tools and their application is technology . This term can also be generalized beyond technology to include information and extended to information technology .


The history of tool use and production by humans begins around 2.4 million years ago. In the course of the Stone Age , many of the tools still common today were developed. The oldest stone tools that surpassed the level of chimpanzee technology were probably made 2.4 million years ago by Homo rudolfensis . Metals as a material for tools have been common since the Copper Age (Chalcolithic, Eneolithic).

The analysis of the trabecular structure of 3 million year old metacarpal bones of Australopithecus africanus by means of computer tomography allows the conclusion that hand tools were already being used at that time.

Even natural objects such as stones or branches are used as tools by humans and many animals. In addition to humans, only a few primates and bird species are capable of making specific tools (sharpening a branch for use as a skewer) (see the use of tools in animals ). Chimpanzees are already able not only to use existing things as tools, but also to produce tools in a targeted manner.

The attempt to increase physical abilities through the use of tools can be seen as an early forerunner of today's bionics . In addition to self-observation, which can not be done without tools, but can be done with tools, attempts to acquire properties of animals that humans do not have in their biological makeup should also lead to concrete results in the sense of technology to have. Even today, a large number of comparative names that refer to animal characteristics are common for simple traditional tools and devices, such as the buck that does not fall over or the proverbial "raging" wolf for shredder or meat grinder .

Individual subject areas


A workpiece is machined by a tool, which in turn has to be guided by an animal, a person or a machine. A machine that independently carries out machining cannot be called a tool, although the terms overlap, because a complex machine can definitely be used “as a tool”.

In detail, the term tool stands for

The job of a toolmaker in the tooling is generally with the manufacture of dies and injection molds ( injection mold ) connected, even though the job description, the production of cutting tools , measuring tools and devices belong.

Working world

In the world of work on include work used tools to the work equipment . This includes all types of operating and business equipment such as office machines , office supplies , office furniture , machines , technical systems , telecommunications systems or tools.

Human science

Pedagogy / Educational Science

To denote the totality of means and aids in learning , the term learning tool has become established. Learning tools in the form of exercise books, fountain pens , erasers , rulers , pocket calculators and computer programs (e.g. electronic reference works) etc. are used in everyday teaching . You save time, material or always carry out the same processes. Good learning tools help and make work easier and also help to support important learning activities.

Cultural studies

In cultural studies - especially in anthropology - the more general definition of tools is used. The following four combinable tool types are distinguished according to their "technological function":

  • Container (keep and store in order to protect the contents from damage, decay, devaluation and loss)
    • Vehicle (combined container and medium such. As vehicles)
  • Media (tools for moving matter or energy over a spatial distance, e.g. telephone cables, pipelines)
    • Mechanism (ensemble of different media that transmit force, energy or movement, e.g. the wheel)
  • Selector (filter to separate things)
    • Valve (combination of selector and mechanism)
  • Converter (converting materials or energy into other forms, e.g. fire)
    • Machine (utilization of energy in kinetic energy through a mechanism)
    • Generator (conversion of mechanical into electrical energy)


The law uses the term tool . For example, when committing a criminal offense, using or accompanying a tool can constitute a qualifying element of the offense or a particularly serious case ( rule example ) (see dangerous bodily harm , serious robbery, particularly serious case of theft ). The content of the factual feature is not congruent with the colloquial term tool, and can even have a different content depending on the factual situation. Sometimes criminal law studies also refer to the person in front of the indirect perpetrator as a tool. Finally, in state liability law, case law has developed a so-called tool theory, according to which it assesses when the state is liable for the errors of commissioned private entrepreneurs according to official liability principles.

See also


  • Helmar Schramm (ed.): Instruments in art and science. On the architecture of cultural boundaries in the 17th century. De Gruyter, Berlin 2006, ISBN 978-3-11-018338-2 .
  • Bernt Spiegel : The upper half of the motorcycle - On the use of tools as artificial organs. 3. Edition. Motorbuch Verlag, Stuttgart 2002, ISBN 3-613-02268-0 .

Web links

Commons : Tool  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wikiquote: Tool  - Quotes
Wiktionary: Tool  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ " The use of an external object as a functional extension of mouth or beak, hand or claw, in the attainment of an immediate goal ". Jane van Lawick-Goodall: Tool-using in primates and other vertebrates . In: DS Lehrman, RA Hinde, E. Shaw (eds.): Advances in the study of behavior . Vol. 3. Academic Press, New York (NY) 1970, pp. 195-249 . Quoted from: Vicki K. Bentley-Condit, EO Smith: Animal tool use: current definitions and an updated comprehensive catalog . In: Behavior . Vol. 147, No. 2 . Brill, 2010, ISSN  0005-7959 , pp. 185-221; A1-A32 , doi : 10.1163 / 000579509X12512865686555 ( [PDF]). For further definitions see ( memento of the original from October 25, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  2. Tool, n. (And m.), Instrumentum. In: Jacob Grimm , Wilhelm Grimm (Hrsg.): German dictionary . tape 29 : Little Wiking - (XIV, 1st section, part 2). S. Hirzel, Leipzig 1960, Sp. 419-426 ( ).
  3. equipment, f. instructio, armatura. In: Jacob Grimm , Wilhelm Grimm (Hrsg.): German dictionary . tape 1 : A - Beer whey - (I). S. Hirzel, Leipzig 1854, Sp. 942 ( ).
  4. ^ Julius Leo: Instrumentarium chirurgicum. With a preface by Johann Nepomuk Rust . 1824.
  5. Armaments, n., In older language also m.. In: Jacob Grimm , Wilhelm Grimm (Hrsg.): German dictionary . tape 14 : R - skewness - (VIII). S. Hirzel, Leipzig 1893, Sp. 1553–1554 ( ).
  6. ^ Stuff, n., M., Collective word for neuter Concreta. In: Jacob Grimm , Wilhelm Grimm (Hrsg.): German dictionary . tape 31 : Z-Zmasche - (XV). S. Hirzel, Leipzig 1956, Sp. 825-838 ( ).
  7. Examples in this sense are given by the Brothers Grimm: "In a concrete sense, a device as a means to support or replace the human hand when processing objects or materials." Tool 1). In: Jacob Grimm , Wilhelm Grimm (Hrsg.): German dictionary . tape 29 : Little Wiking - (XIV, 1st section, part 2). S. Hirzel, Leipzig 1960, Sp. 419-421 ( ).
  8. Tool 3) a). In: Jacob Grimm , Wilhelm Grimm (Hrsg.): German dictionary . tape 29 : Little Wiking - (XIV, 1st section, part 2). S. Hirzel, Leipzig 1960, Sp. 422-424 ( ).
  9. Anthropology: Bones reveal early tool use, January 22, 2015.
  10. ^ Dieter Haller (text), Bernd Rodekohr (illustrations): Dtv-Atlas Ethnologie. 2nd Edition. dtv, Munich 2010, p. 139.