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.

  • 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.
  • noun The tracheal tympanum or labyrinth of a bird. See tympanum, 4.
  • noun 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.
  • noun The large hollow hyoid bone of a howling monkey. See Mycetinæ.
  • noun A membrane drawn over a round frame, used for testing the delicate edges of eye-instruments.
  • noun A receptacle having the form of a drum, or the quantity packed in such receptacle: as, a drum of figs.
  • noun Milit., a party accompanied by a drum sent under a flag of truce to confer with the enemy.
  • noun 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.
  • noun An afternoon tea. Also called kettledrum, with a punning allusion to tea-kettle.
  • noun 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 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.
  • 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.
  • To beat a drum; beat or play a tune on a drum.


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).


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