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

  • n. A male bee, especially a honeybee, that is characteristically stingless, performs no work, and produces no honey. Its only function is to mate with the queen bee.
  • n. An idle person who lives off others; a loafer.
  • n. A person who does tedious or menial work; a drudge: "undervalued drones who labored in obscurity” ( Caroline Bates).
  • n. A pilotless aircraft operated by remote control.
  • intransitive v. To make a continuous low dull humming sound: "Somewhere an electric fan droned without end” ( William Styron).
  • intransitive v. To speak in a monotonous tone: The lecturer droned on for hours.
  • intransitive v. To pass or act in a monotonous way.
  • transitive v. To utter in a monotonous low tone: "The mosquitoes droned their angry chant” ( W. Somerset Maugham).
  • n. A continuous low humming or buzzing sound.
  • n. Music Any of the pipes of a bagpipe that lack finger holes and produce a single tone.
  • n. Music A long sustained tone.
  • n. Music Any of various instruments that produce only a constant pitch.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A male bee or wasp, which does not work but can fertilise the queen (Wikipedia).
  • n. Someone who doesn't work; a lazy person, an idler.
  • n. A remotely controlled aircraft, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV, Wikipedia).
  • v. To produce a low-pitched hum or buzz.
  • v. To speak in a monotone way.
  • n. A low-pitched hum or buzz.
  • n. One who performs menial or tedious work; a drudge.
  • n. One of the fixed-pitch pipes on a bagpipe.
  • n. A genre of music similar to that of noise.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The male of bees, esp. of the honeybee. It gathers no honey. See honeybee.
  • n. One who lives on the labors of others; a lazy, idle fellow; a sluggard.
  • n. That which gives out a grave or monotonous tone or dull sound; as: (a) A drum. [Obs.] Halliwell. (b) The part of the bagpipe containing the two lowest tubes, which always sound the key note and the fifth.
  • n. A humming or deep murmuring sound.
  • n. A monotonous bass, as in a pastoral composition.
  • intransitive v. To utter or make a low, dull, monotonous, humming or murmuring sound.
  • intransitive v. To love in idleness; to do nothing.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To roar; bellow.
  • To give forth a monotonous, unvaried tone; utter a dull humming sound; hum or buzz, as a beetle or a bagpipe.
  • To use a dull, monotonous tone: as, he drones in his reading.
  • To give forth or utter in a monotonous, dull tone: as, he drones his sentences.
  • To live in idleness.
  • n. A monotonous, continued tone or sound; a humming: as, the drone of a bee.
  • n. In music: A pipe in the bagpipe which gives out a continuous and invariable tone.
  • n. A drone-bass.
  • n. The male of the honey-bee.
  • n. Hence An idler; a sluggard; one who lives on the labor of others.
  • n. The tone emitted by the drone of a bagpipe.

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

  • n. stingless male bee in a colony of social bees (especially honeybees) whose sole function is to mate with the queen
  • n. a pipe of the bagpipe that is tuned to produce a single continuous tone
  • v. talk in a monotonous voice
  • n. someone who takes more time than necessary; someone who lags behind
  • v. make a monotonous low dull sound
  • n. an unchanging intonation
  • n. an aircraft without a pilot that is operated by remote control


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

Middle English, from Old English drān.
From drone1 (from the bee's humming sound).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English drone, from Old English drān, drǣn ("male bee, drone"), from Proto-Germanic *drēniz, *drēnuz, *drenô (“an insect, drone”), from Proto-Indo-European *dʰrēn- (“bee, drone, hornet”). Cognate with Dutch drone ("male bee or wasp"), Low German drone ("drone"), German Drohne, dialectal German Dräne, Trehne, Trene ("drone"), Danish drone ("drone"), Swedish drönje, drönare ("drone").

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English drounen ("to roar, bellow"), ultimately perhaps from Proto-Germanic *drunjanan (“to drone, roar, make a sound”), from Proto-Indo-European *dʰer- (“to roar, hum, drone”). Cognate with Scots drune ("to drone, moan, complain"), Dutch dreunen ("to drone, boom, thud"), Low German drönen ("to drone, buzz, hum"), German dröhnen ("to roar, boom, rumble"), Danish drøne ("to roar, boom, peel out"), Swedish dröna ("to low, bellow, roar"), Icelandic drynja ("to roar").



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  • can be a transitive verb:

    -To assault or attack, as a target or location, by means of drone(s).

    "That feeling...gripped me when my village was droned just days ago." -- Farea al-Muslimi, Yemeni journalist, before a US Senate subcommittee, 2013-04-23

    April 24, 2013

  • "Given the thousands of Afghans killed in recent years, small wonder that support for the neo-Taliban is increasing, even in non-Pashtun areas of the country. Many Afghans hostile to the old Taliban still support the resistance simply to make it clear that they are against the helicopters and missile-armed unmanned aerial drones that destroy homes, and to 'Big Daddy' who wipes out villages, and to the flames that devour children."

    - Tariq Ali, 'Operation Enduring Disaster', 16 Nov 2008.

    November 17, 2008

  • All afternoon the drone of a saw has fanned

    with resin over this bank of vibrating pines;

    with each completed sever, falling an octave -

    the one, only sound of another human

    in all dead, hot, black Mortimer Forest.

    I have seen the place; clearing, sawdust, tarpaulin,

    pipe-dottle, that is all, never the man.

    If it stops now and I go there I will find,

    to mark hard work for so long, long weeping ranks,

    curtailed, seasoning in glutinous tiers,

    and dust, dust red wood-ants perpetually sift.

    - Peter Reading, Mortimer Forest, from For the Municipality's Elderly, 1974

    June 22, 2008