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drone 1 (drōn)
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n.
1. A male bee, especially a honeybee, that is characteristically stingless, performs no work, and produces no honey. Its only function is to mate with the queen bee.
2. An idle person who lives off others; a loafer.
3. A person who does tedious or menial work; a drudge: "undervalued drones who labored in obscurity" (Caroline Bates).
4. A remotely controlled or autonomous aircraft with no pilot on board. Also called unmanned aircraft system.

[Middle English, from Old English drān. Sense 4, originally 1930s US naval jargon introduced by Commander (later Rear Admiral) Delmer Fahrney (1898-1984), in reference to the fact that such pilotless aircraft, at first used for target practice, were controlled by an operator on the ground or in a mother ship or aircraft, likened to a queen bee.]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 
drone 2 (drōn)
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v. droned, dron·ing, drones
v.intr.
1. To make a continuous low dull humming sound: "Somewhere an electric fan droned without end" (William Styron).
2. To speak in a monotonous tone: The lecturer droned on for hours.
3. To pass or act in a monotonous way.
v.tr.
To utter in a monotonous low tone: "The mosquitoes droned their angry chant" (W. Somerset Maugham).
n.
1. A continuous low humming or buzzing sound.
2. Music
a. Any of the pipes of a bagpipe that lack finger holes and produce a single tone.
b. A long sustained tone.
c. Any of various instruments that produce only a constant pitch.

[From DRONE1 (from the bee's humming sound).]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices

    Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

    Indo-European Roots

    Semitic Roots

    The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.

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