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drum (drŭm)
n. pl. drums
a. A percussion instrument consisting of a hollow cylinder or hemisphere with a membrane stretched tightly over one or both ends, played by beating with the hands or sticks.
b. A sound produced by this instrument.
2. Something resembling a drum in shape or structure, especially a barrellike metal container or a metal cylinder wound with cable, wire, or heavy rope.
3. Architecture
a. A circular or polygonal wall supporting a dome or cupola. Also called tambour.
b. Any of the cylindrical stone blocks that are stacked to form the shaft of a column.
4. Any of various marine and freshwater fishes of the family Sciaenidae that make a drumming sound by vibrating certain muscles attached to the swim bladder.
5. Anatomy The eardrum.
v. drummed, drum·ming, drums
v. intr.
1. To play a drum or drums.
2. To thump or tap rhythmically or continually: nervously drummed on the table.
3. To produce a booming, reverberating sound by beating the wings, as certain birds do.
v. tr.
1. To perform (a piece or tune) on or as if on a drum.
2. To summon by or as if by beating a drum.
3. To make known to or force upon (a person) by constant repetition: drummed the answers into my head.
4. To expel or dismiss in disgrace. Often used with out: was drummed out of the army.
Phrasal Verb:
drum up
1. To bring about by continuous, persistent effort: drum up new business.
2. To devise; invent: drummed up an alibi.

[Middle English drom, probably alteration of Middle Dutch tromme, ultimately of imitative origin; see TRUMPET.]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. 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.