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[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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for tympani
Historical Examples
  • 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.

  • I stay in my attic room and play upon my tympani, my beloved children.

    Melomaniacs 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
  • Lenore foolishly curses her fate (tympani and triangle), and from that moment is lost.

    The So-called Human Race Bert Leston Taylor
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • The tympani are hemispherical brass or copper vessels, kettles in short, covered with vellum heads.

    How to Listen to Music, 7th ed. Henry Edward Krehbiel
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
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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
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tympani in Culture
timpani [(tim-puh-nee)]

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

The American Heritage® 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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