from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun 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.
  • noun A sound produced by this instrument.
  • noun Something resembling a drum in shape or structure, especially a barrellike metal container or a metal cylinder wound with cable, wire, or heavy rope.
  • noun A circular or polygonal wall supporting a dome or cupola.
  • noun Any of the cylindrical stone blocks that are stacked to form the shaft of a column.
  • noun Any of various marine and freshwater fishes of the family Sciaenidae that make a drumming sound by vibrating certain muscles attached to the swim bladder.
  • noun Anatomy The eardrum.
  • intransitive verb To play a drum or drums.
  • intransitive verb To thump or tap rhythmically or continually.
  • intransitive verb To produce a booming, reverberating sound by beating the wings, as certain birds do.
  • intransitive verb To perform (a piece or tune) on or as if on a drum.
  • intransitive verb To summon by or as if by beating a drum.
  • intransitive verb To make known to or force upon (a person) by constant repetition.
  • intransitive verb To expel or dismiss in disgrace. Often used with out:

from The Century Dictionary.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • noun A ridge; a hill.
  • noun Specifically
  • noun 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.
  • noun 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.
  • noun In arch.: The solid part of the Corinthian and Composite capital, otherwise called bell, vase, or basket.
  • noun One of the blocks of nearly cylindrical form of which the shafts of many columns are constructed.
  • noun An upright member under or above a dome.
  • noun In machinery, a term applied to various contrivances resembling a drum in shape.
  • noun Specifically— A cylinder revolving on an axis for the purpose of turning wheels by means of belts or bands passing round it.
  • noun The barrel of a crane or windlass.
  • noun A cylinder on which wire is wound, as in wire-drawing.
  • noun The grinding cylinder or cone of some mills.
  • noun The cast-iron case which holds the coiled spring of a spring car-brake.
  • noun A circular radiator for steam or hot air; a stove-drum or steam-drum.
  • noun 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.
  • noun A steam-tight cask in which printed fabrics are submitted to the action of steam to fix the colors.
  • noun A washing-tub for cleaning rags in paper-making.
  • noun A doffer in a carding-machine.
  • noun In a vase or similar vessel, that part of the body which approximates to a cylindrical form.
  • noun In anatomy and zoöl.: The tympanum or middle ear.


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

[Middle English drom, probably alteration of Middle Dutch tromme, probably of imitative origin.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

1535, back-formation from drumslade "drummer" from Middle Dutch trommelslach ("drumbeat"), from trommel ("drum") + slach ("beat") (Dutch slag).


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word drum.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.