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[ket-l-druhm] /ˈkɛt lˌdrʌm/
a drum consisting of a hollow hemisphere of brass, copper, or fiberglass over which is stretched a skin, the tension of which can be modified by hand screws or foot pedals to vary the pitch.
Compare timpani.
Origin of kettledrum
First recorded in 1595-1605; kettle + drum1
Related forms
kettledrummer, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for kettledrums


a percussion instrument of definite pitch, consisting of a hollow bowl-like hemisphere covered with a skin or membrane, supported on a tripod or stand. The pitch may be adjusted by means of screws or pedals, which alter the tension of the skin
Derived Forms
kettledrummer, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for kettledrums



1540s, from kettle + drum (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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kettledrums in Culture

kettledrum definition

A drum consisting of a skin stretched over a large shell in the shape of a half-sphere. The pitch of the kettledrum can be changed by manipulating screws at the edge of the skin or pedals at the bottom of the drum. Kettledrums are usually used in classical music in sets of two or more and are known by their Italian name, timpani.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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