from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A percussion instrument consisting of a hollow cylinder or hemisphere with a membrane stretched tightly over one or both ends, played by beating with the hands or sticks.
  • n. A sound produced by this instrument.
  • n. Something resembling a drum in shape or structure, especially a barrellike metal container or a metal cylinder wound with cable, wire, or heavy rope.
  • n. Architecture A circular or polygonal wall supporting a dome or cupola. Also called tambour.
  • n. Architecture Any of the cylindrical stone blocks that are stacked to form the shaft of a column.
  • n. Any of various marine and freshwater fishes of the family Sciaenidae that make a drumming sound.
  • n. Anatomy The eardrum.
  • intransitive v. To play a drum or drums.
  • intransitive v. To thump or tap rhythmically or continually: nervously drummed on the table.
  • intransitive v. To produce a booming, reverberating sound by beating the wings, as certain birds do.
  • transitive v. To perform (a piece or tune) on or as if on a drum.
  • transitive v. To summon by or as if by beating a drum.
  • transitive v. To make known to or force upon (a person) by constant repetition: drummed the answers into my head.
  • transitive v. To expel or dismiss in disgrace. Often used with out: was drummed out of the army.
  • drum up To bring about by continuous, persistent effort: drum up new business.
  • drum up To devise; invent: drummed up an alibi.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A percussive musical instrument spanned with a thin covering on at least one end for striking, forming an acoustic chamber, affecting what materials are used to make it.
  • n. Any similar hollow, cylindrical object.
  • n. In particular, a barrel or large cylindrical container for liquid transport and storage.
  • n. A social gathering or assembly held in the evening.
  • n. The encircling wall that supports a dome or cupola
  • n. Any of the cylindrical blocks that make up the shaft of a pillar
  • n. A drumfish.
  • v. (music) To beat a drum.
  • v. To knock successively and playfully.
  • v. To drill or review in an attempt to establish memorization.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An instrument of percussion, consisting either of a hollow cylinder, over each end of which is stretched a piece of skin or vellum, to be beaten with a stick; or of a metallic hemisphere (kettledrum) with a single piece of skin to be so beaten; the common instrument for marking time in martial music; one of the pair of tympani in an orchestra, or cavalry band.
  • n. Anything resembling a drum in form.
  • n. A sheet iron radiator, often in the shape of a drum, for warming an apartment by means of heat received from a stovepipe, or a cylindrical receiver for steam, etc.
  • n. A small cylindrical box in which figs, etc., are packed.
  • n. The tympanum of the ear; -- often, but incorrectly, applied to the tympanic membrane.
  • n. One of the cylindrical, or nearly cylindrical, blocks, of which the shaft of a column is composed; also, a vertical wall, whether circular or polygonal in plan, carrying a cupola or dome.
  • n. A cylinder on a revolving shaft, generally for the purpose of driving several pulleys, by means of belts or straps passing around its periphery; also, the barrel of a hoisting machine, on which the rope or chain is wound.
  • n. See Drumfish.
  • n. A noisy, tumultuous assembly of fashionable people at a private house; a rout.
  • n. A tea party; a kettledrum.
  • intransitive v. To beat a drum with sticks; to beat or play a tune on a drum.
  • intransitive v. To beat with the fingers, as with drumsticks; to beat with a rapid succession of strokes; to make a noise like that of a beaten drum.
  • intransitive v. To throb, as the heart.
  • intransitive v. To go about, as a drummer does, to gather recruits, to draw or secure partisans, customers, etc,; -- with for.
  • transitive v. To execute on a drum, as a tune.
  • transitive v. (With out) To expel ignominiously, with beat of drum
  • transitive v. (With up) To assemble by, or as by, beat of drum; to collect; to gather or draw by solicitation

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A musical instrument of the percussive class, consisting of a hollow wooden or metallic body and a tightly stretched head of membrane which is struck with a stick.
  • n. In arch.: The solid part of the Corinthian and Composite capital, otherwise called bell, vase, or basket.
  • n. One of the blocks of nearly cylindrical form of which the shafts of many columns are constructed.
  • n. An upright member under or above a dome.
  • n. In machinery, a term applied to various contrivances resembling a drum in shape.
  • n. Specifically— A cylinder revolving on an axis for the purpose of turning wheels by means of belts or bands passing round it.
  • n. The barrel of a crane or windlass.
  • n. A cylinder on which wire is wound, as in wire-drawing.
  • n. The grinding cylinder or cone of some mills.
  • n. The cast-iron case which holds the coiled spring of a spring car-brake.
  • n. A circular radiator for steam or hot air; a stove-drum or steam-drum.
  • n. In water-heaters or steam-boilers, a chamber into which heated water is made to flow in order to afford room for other bodies of water from parts of the boiler not so near the fire.
  • n. A steam-tight cask in which printed fabrics are submitted to the action of steam to fix the colors.
  • n. A washing-tub for cleaning rags in paper-making.
  • n. A doffer in a carding-machine.
  • n. In a vase or similar vessel, that part of the body which approximates to a cylindrical form.
  • n. In anatomy and zoöl.: The tympanum or middle ear.
  • n. The tracheal tympanum or labyrinth of a bird. See tympanum, 4.
  • n. One of the tympanic organs seated in two deep cavities on the first abdominal segment of certain Homoptera, and said to be used in producing sounds.
  • n. The large hollow hyoid bone of a howling monkey. See Mycetinæ.
  • n. A membrane drawn over a round frame, used for testing the delicate edges of eye-instruments.
  • n. A receptacle having the form of a drum, or the quantity packed in such receptacle: as, a drum of figs.
  • n. Milit., a party accompanied by a drum sent under a flag of truce to confer with the enemy.
  • n. A fashionable and crowded evening party, at which card-playing appears to have been the chief attraction; a rout. The more riotous of such assemblies were styled drum-majors.
  • n. An afternoon tea. Also called kettledrum, with a punning allusion to tea-kettle.
  • n. In ichthyology, a name of several sciænoid fishes: so called from the drumming noise they make, said to be due, in part at least, to the grinding of the pharyngeal bones upon each other.
  • To beat a drum; beat or play a tune on a drum.
  • To beat rhythmically or regularly with the fingers or something else, as if using drum sticks: as, to drum on the table.
  • To beat, as the heart; throb.
  • To attract recruits, as by the sound of the drum; hence, in the United States, to sue for partizans, customers, etc.: followed by for.
  • To sound like a drum; resound.
  • To produce a sound resembling drumming: said of partridges, blackcock, and other birds. It is done by quivering the expanded feathers of the wings.
  • To perform on a drum, as a tune.
  • Milit., to expel formally and accompany in departure with the beat of the drum: often used figuratively, and usually followed by out: as, the disgraced soldier was drummed out of the regiment.
  • To summon as by beat of drum.
  • To force upon the attention by continual iteration; din: as, to drum something into one's ears.
  • n. A ridge; a hill.
  • n. Specifically
  • n. A long narrow ridge or mound of sand, gravel, and boulders: a name given by Irish geologists to elevations of this kind believed to have been the result of glacial agencies. See eskar, horseback, and kame. Also called drumlin.
  • To treat in a drum, as skins. See druml, n., 3 .
  • In forestry, to haul (logs) by drum and cable out of a hollow or cove.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. small to medium-sized bottom-dwelling food and game fishes of shallow coastal and fresh waters that make a drumming noise
  • n. a musical percussion instrument; usually consists of a hollow cylinder with a membrane stretched across each end
  • n. a cylindrical metal container used for shipping or storage of liquids
  • n. a hollow cast-iron cylinder attached to the wheel that forms part of the brakes
  • n. the sound of a drum
  • v. make a rhythmic sound
  • v. study intensively, as before an exam
  • n. a bulging cylindrical shape; hollow with flat ends
  • v. play a percussion instrument


Middle English drom, probably alteration of Middle Dutch tromme, probably of imitative origin.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
1535, back-formation from drumslade "drummer" from Middle Dutch trommelslach ("drumbeat"), from trommel ("drum") + slach ("beat") (Dutch slag). (Wiktionary)



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