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

  • noun The combination of qualities of a sound that distinguishes it from other sounds of the same pitch and volume.
  • noun Distinctive character.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To play the timbrel.
  • noun In acoustics, that characteristic quality of sounds produced from some particular source, as from an instrument or a voice, by which they are distinguished from sounds from other sources, as from other instruments or other voices; quality; tone-color.
  • noun A tambourine; a timbrel.
  • noun Same as timbe.
  • noun An old spelling of timber, timber, timber.

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

  • noun See 1st timber.
  • noun (Her.) The crest on a coat of arms.
  • noun (Mus.) The quality or tone distinguishing voices or instruments; tone color; clang tint; See Tone, and Partial tones, under Partial.

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

  • noun The quality of a sound independent of its pitch and volume.
  • noun heraldry The crest on a coat of arms.

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

  • noun (music) the distinctive property of a complex sound (a voice or noise or musical sound)


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

[French, from Old French, drum, clapperless bell, probably from Medieval Greek *timbanon, drum, from Greek tumpanon, kettledrum.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

French, a bell to be struck with a hammer, sound, tone, stamp, crest, in Old French, a timbrel. Compare timbrel.


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



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

  • The official definition of the Acoustical Society of America is that timbre is everything about a sound that is not loudness or pitch. So much for scientific precision!
    Daniel J. Levitin, This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession (New York: Penguin Random House, 2007), p. 19

    June 19, 2017

  • am I going deaf, or do people pronounce this like 'tamber'?

    or is this a US / Canada thing?

    October 14, 2017