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

  • n. The male of various animals, especially a male cat or turkey.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The male of the domesticated cat.
  • n. The male of the turkey.
  • n. The male of certain other animals.
  • n. A prostitute.
  • n. A type of drum.
  • n. The jack of trumps in the card game gleek.
  • n. A tomato (the fruit).
  • n. jewellery

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The knave of trumps at gleek.
  • n. A familiar contraction of Thomas, a proper name of a man.
  • n. The male of certain animals; -- often used adjectively or in composition

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. An abbreviation of tome (volume).
  • n. A familiar form of the common Christian name Thomas.
  • n. Used, like jack, attributively or in composition with the name of an animal, a male: as, a tom-cat; hence, as a noun, a male; specifically, a male cat.
  • n. The knave of trumps at gleek.
  • n. A close-stool.
  • n. A machine formerly used in gold-washing, first in the southern Atlantic States, and later in California, where, however, it was soon superseded by the sluice.
  • n. Same as def. 5, above.
  • n. A kind of large pitcher or water-can in use in England in the early part of the nineteenth century.
  • n. A Middle English form of toom.

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

  • n. (ethnic slur) offensive and derogatory name for a Black man who is abjectly servile and deferential to Whites
  • n. male turkey
  • n. male cat


Tom, nickname for Thomas.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From generic use of the proper name Tom. (Wiktionary)
Shortened from tomato (Wiktionary)
Rhyming slang from tomfoolery. (Wiktionary)



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  • See also comments on Uncle Tom.

    November 7, 2008

  • This comes from the Harriet Beecher Stowe novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852).

    The term used to be (many years ago) "Uncle Tom," but seems to have been shortened to Tom. Some info about the book here. The book was so influential that several of the characters' names entered the public discourse as a shorthand or stereotype of a certain kind of person--e.g. Uncle Tom, Eva, Simon Legree...

    October 27, 2008

  • I've no idea what WordNet is on about. In British slang tom means a female prostitute. Not in use in use in Australia.

    October 26, 2008

  • Tom Dooley, Kingston Trio, #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1958

    February 9, 2008

  • Just Like Tom Thumb Blues by Bob Dylan

    February 9, 2008

  • "Who keeps attributing all these puns to me?!" Tom said unknowingly...

    October 31, 2007

  • the male of the species (well, some species)

    June 29, 2007