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90s Slang You Should Know


[struhm] /strʌm/
verb (used with object), strummed, strumming.
to play on (a stringed musical instrument) by running the fingers lightly across the strings.
to produce (notes, a melody, etc.) by such playing:
to strum a tune.
verb (used without object), strummed, strumming.
to play on a stringed musical instrument by running the fingers lightly across the strings.
the act of strumming.
the sound produced by strumming.
Origin of strum1
1765-75; perhaps blend of string and thrum1
Related forms
strummer, noun


[struhm] /strʌm/
a strainer, as at the inlet of a system of tubing.
origin uncertain Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for strum
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • strum or Thrum should be used, and not drum, when the noisy and unskillful fingering of a musical instrument is meant.

  • Being able to strum on the mandoline settled it for me, and jolly thankful I was, too.

    Twos and Threes G. B. Stern
  • It had not the harps of the trees to strum on, but it made shift with the corners of the houses.

    H. R. Edwin Lefevre
  • I have all the more right to talk of music because I do not strum on the piano as you do.

    Froth Armando Palacio Valds
  • Almost every working-man has his girls taught to strum the piano.

    Town Life in Australia R. E. N. (Richard) Twopeny
  • Angel was the possessor of a flute-like treble, and he could strum some sort of accompaniment on the piano to any song.

    Atlantic Narratives Mary Antin
  • We pack off our sons to cram themselves with Greek and Latin, and put our daughters down to strum at the piano.

    They and I Jerome K. Jerome
  • I got the banjo-player to strum the piece over again, and I bought drinks for the crowd.

    Tales From Bohemia Robert Neilson Stephens
British Dictionary definitions for strum


verb strums, strumming, strummed
to sound (the strings of a guitar, banjo, etc) with a downward or upward sweep of the thumb or of a plectrum
to play (chords, a tune, etc) in this way
Derived Forms
strummer, noun
Word Origin
C18: probably of imitative origin; see thrum1
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 strum

1775, possibly imitative of the sound of running the fingers across the strings of a musical instrument. Related: Strummed; strumming.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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