Definitions

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

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

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A familiar form of the common Christian name Thomas.
  • noun 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.
  • noun The knave of trumps at gleek.
  • noun A close-stool.
  • noun 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used in gold-washing, first in the southern Atlantic States, and later in California, where, however, it was soon superseded by the sluice.
  • noun Same as def. 5, above.
  • noun A kind of large pitcher or water-can in use in England in the early part of the nineteenth century.
  • noun An abbreviation of tome (volume).
  • noun A Middle English form of toom.

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

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

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

  • noun UK A tomato (the fruit).
  • noun Cockney rhyming slang jewellery
  • noun The male of the domesticated cat.
  • noun The male of the turkey.
  • noun The male of certain other animals.
  • noun UK, slang A prostitute.
  • noun music A type of drum.
  • noun obsolete The jack of trumps in the card game gleek.

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

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

Etymologies

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

[Tom, nickname for Thomas.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Shortened from tomato

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Rhyming slang from tomfoolery.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From generic use of the proper name Tom.

Examples

Comments

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

    June 29, 2007

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

    October 31, 2007

  • Just Like Tom Thumb Blues by Bob Dylan

    February 9, 2008

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

    February 9, 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

  • 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

  • See also comments on Uncle Tom.

    November 7, 2008