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

  • noun A percussion instrument consisting of a small drumhead with jingling disks fitted into the rim, usually played by shaking and striking with the hand.
  • noun A similar instrument without a drumhead.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A parchment-covered racket, resembling a battledore, with which the ball is thrown in the game of tamburello (which see).
  • noun A small drum formed of a ring or hoop of wood or sometimes of metal, over which is stretched a single head of parchment.
  • noun A long narrow drum or tabor used in Provence; also, a bottle-shaped drum used in Egypt.
  • noun A Provençal dance originally executed to the sound of tabor and pipe, with or without singing.
  • noun Music for such a dance, in duple rhythm and quick tempo, and usually accompanied by a drone bass of a single tone, as the tonic or the dominant, as if played by rubbing the finger across a tambourine.
  • noun A remarkable pigeon of Africa, Tympanistria bicolor. See cut under Tympanistria.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A small drum, especially a shallow drum with only one skin, played on with the hand, and having bells at the sides; a timbrel.
  • noun A South American wild dove (Tympanistria tympanistria), mostly white, with black-tiped wings and tail. Its resonant note is said to be ventriloquous.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A percussion instrument consisting of a small, usually wooden, hoop closed on one side with a drum frame and featuring jingling metal disks on the tread; it is usually held in the hand and shaken rhythmically.

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

  • noun a shallow drum with a single drumhead and with metallic disks in the sides


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

[French tambourin, small drum, from Old French; see tambourin.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

from French tambourin (lit., "little drum"), from tambour ("drum").


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  • In the hands of a Jewish woman, the tambourine is a symbol of passage, hope, and achievement.

    Nina Beth Cardin: Statement 2010

  •  She doesn't look anything like Louise, who is lean and black haired, but the tambourine is a lot like the one I held in New Orleans last spring when we went to Mardi Gras and sang dive-bar karaoke.

    Nigtingale 2009

  • One of the other musicians said that the tambourine is a female due to the fact that it makes a pretty jingle and is designed to be spanked.

    Skinny Legs and All Robbins, Tom 1990

  • He tells me that the tambourine is the sole feminine instrument of the Middle East.

    Skinny Legs and All Robbins, Tom 1990

  • Tests of strength and endurance occur between the men of the tribe; and visits are paid to the various settlements, during the long winter nights; and songs and choruses are sung, accompanied by a kind of tambourine which is made from the bladder of a walrus or seal, and stretched across the antlers of a reindeer.

    A Negro Explorer at the North Pole Matthew A. Henson 1888

  • The owner of a tambourine is the equal of a peer; the proprietor of a guitar is the captain of his hundred.

    Castilian Days John Hay 1870

  • One of the young soldiers had a kind of tambourine—the soldiers sang songs around their own campfire.

    The Berrybender Narratives Larry McMurtry 2004

  • Says the smooth hypocrite: "I should have set thee on thy way with joyful festivities (Hebrew:" joy ") and songs, with timbrel (toph, a kind of tambourine) and harp" (kinnor, perhaps originally an instrument more like a violin).

    Exposition of Genesis: Volume 1 1892-1972 1942

  • The Alaskan Indians stretch a skin into a kind of tambourine and beat it with a club to call a bull; which sound, however, might not be unlike one of the many peculiar bellows that I have heard from cow moose in the wilderness.

    Wood Folk at School William Joseph Long 1909

  • Then some thick-lipped musicians struck up music on quaintly-shaped stringed instruments, and the strange old man, bearing a kind of tambourine in his hand, came round to collect coins, the collection being repeated at the conclusion of each legend.

    The Great White Queen A Tale of Treasure and Treason William Le Queux 1895


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  • "TAMBOURINE, fr. a small drum used in military bands." (citation in Historical Military Terms list description)

    October 9, 2008

  • it has all the vowels!

    June 11, 2009

  • Etymology: French, drum, from Middle French, from Arabic tanbur, modification (influenced by tunbur, a lute) of Persian tabir

    August 31, 2009