Try Our Apps


Words You've Been Using Wrong


[tim-puh-nee] /ˈtɪm pə ni/
plural noun, (often used with a singular verb)


or tympani

[tim-puh-nee] /ˈtɪm pə ni/
noun, (used with a singular or plural verb)
a set of kettledrums, especially as used in an orchestra or band.
Origin of timpani
< Italian, plural of timpano kettledrum < Latin tympanum < Greek týmpanon
Related forms
timpanist, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for tympani
Historical Examples
  • I stay in my attic room and play upon my tympani, my beloved children.

    Melomaniacs James Huneker
  • I am a poet, and play upon the tympani; the conductor and the orchestra are boors.

    Melomaniacs James Huneker
  • In the “battery” the instruments of prime importance are the tympani.

  • But I begin to feel the call of New York on the tympani of my blood globules.

  • A few taps of the tympani, with which the composition ends, give the ring of finality.

    Franz Liszt James Huneker
  • They were stuffed Birds, set in cases round the walls, and the glass fronts of the cases had formed Smith's tympani.

    A Case in Camera

    Oliver Onions
  • It is done by Wagner in this case by long drawn-out chords followed by faint taps on the tympani.

  • So the horrible conglomeration of noises which assailed his tympani set him to wondering—and cursing.

    Painted Veils James Huneker
  • To his surprise and annoyance, he found the music stopping short at his tympani, powerless to enter his brain.

    The Dominant Strain Anna Chapin Ray
  • He often called on me and we played duets for bassoon and tympani, and then read Amiel's journal aloud and wept.

    Melomaniacs James Huneker
British Dictionary definitions for tympani


plural noun
a variant spelling of timpani


plural noun
(sometimes functioning as sing) a set of kettledrums, two or more in number Often (informal) shortened to timps
Derived Forms
timpanist, tympanist, noun
Word Origin
from Italian, pl of timpano kettledrum, from Latin: tympanum
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for tympani



1876, plural of timpano (1740), from Italian timpani "drums," from Latin tympanum "drum" (see tympanum).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
tympani in Culture
timpani [(tim-puh-nee)]

Italian for kettledrums; the term timpani is often preferred by composers and performers.

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

Word of the Day

Nearby words for tympani

Word Value for tympani

Scrabble Words With Friends