noun, plural drums, (especially collectively for 11) drum.

  1. a musical percussion instrument consisting of a hollow, usually cylindrical, body covered at one or both ends with a tightly stretched membrane, or head, which is struck with the hand, a stick, or a pair of sticks, and typically produces a booming, tapping, or hollow sound.
  2. any hollow tree or similar object or device used in this way.
  3. the sound produced by such an instrument, object, or device.
  4. any rumbling or deep booming sound.
  5. a natural organ by which an animal produces a loud or bass sound.
  6. eardrum.
  7. any cylindrical object with flat ends.
  8. a cylindrical part of a machine.
  9. a cylindrical box or receptacle, especially a large, metal one for storing or transporting liquids.
  10. Also called tambour. Architecture.
    1. any of several cylindrical or nearly cylindrical stones laid one above the other to form a column or pier.
    2. a cylindrical or faceted construction supporting a dome.
  11. any of several marine and freshwater fishes of the family Sciaenidae that produce a drumming sound.
  12. Also called drum memory. Computers. magnetic drum.
  13. Archaic. an assembly of fashionable people at a private house in the evening.
  14. a person who plays the drum.
  15. Australian Informal. reliable, confidential, or profitable information: to give someone the drum.

verb (used without object), drummed, drum·ming.

  1. to beat or play a drum.
  2. to beat on anything rhythmically, especially to tap one’s fingers rhythmically on a hard surface.
  3. to make a sound like that of a drum; resound.
  4. (of ruffed grouse and other birds) to produce a sound resembling drumming.

verb (used with object), drummed, drum·ming.

  1. to beat (a drum) rhythmically; perform by beating a drum: to drum a rhythm for dancers.
  2. to call or summon by, or as if by, beating a drum.
  3. to drive or force by persistent repetition: to drum an idea into someone.
  4. to fill a drum with; store in a drum: to drum contaminated water and dispose of it.

Verb Phrases

  1. drum out,
    1. (formerly) to expel or dismiss from a military service in disgrace to the beat of a drum.
    2. to dismiss in disgrace: He was drummed out of the university for his gambling activities.
  2. drum up,
    1. to call or summon by, or as if by, beating a drum.
    2. to obtain or create (customers, trade, interest, etc.) through vigorous effort: They were unable to drum up enthusiasm for the new policies.
    3. to concoct; devise: to drum up new methods of dealing with urban crime.
  1. beat the drum, to promote, publicize, or advertise: The boss is out beating the drum for a new product.

noun Scot., Irish English.

  1. a long, narrow hill or ridge.


  1. music a percussion instrument sounded by striking a membrane stretched across the opening of a hollow cylinder or hemisphere
  2. beat the drum for informal to attempt to arouse interest in
  3. the sound produced by a drum or any similar sound
  4. an object that resembles a drum in shape, such as a large spool or a cylindrical container
  5. architect
    1. one of a number of cylindrical blocks of stone used to construct the shaft of a column
    2. the wall or structure supporting a dome or cupola
  6. short for eardrum
  7. Also called: drumfish any of various North American marine and freshwater sciaenid fishes, such as Equetus pulcher (striped drum), that utter a drumming sound
  8. a type of hollow rotor for steam turbines or axial compressors
  9. computing a rotating cylindrical device on which data may be stored for later retrieval: now mostly superseded by disksSee disk (def. 2)
  10. archaic a drummer
  11. the drum Australian informal the necessary information (esp in the phrase give (someone) the drum)

verb drums, drumming or drummed

  1. to play (music) on or as if on a drum
  2. to beat or tap (the fingers) rhythmically or regularly
  3. (intr) (of birds) to produce a rhythmic sound, as by beating the bill against a tree, branch, etc
  4. (tr sometimes foll by up) to summon or call by drumming
  5. (tr) to instil by constant repetitionto drum an idea into someone’s head


  1. Scot and Irish a narrow ridge or hill

1540s, probably from Middle Dutch tromme “drum,” common Germanic (cf. German Trommel, Danish tromme, Swedish trumma), probably of imitative origin. Not common before 1570s. Slightly older, and more common at first, was drumslade, apparently from Dutch or Low German trommelslag. Machinery sense attested from 1740, from similarity of shape.


1570s, from drum (n.). To drum (up) business, etc., is American English 1839, from the old way of drawing a crowd.


  1. eardrum
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