See more synonyms for drone on Thesaurus.com
verb (used without object), droned, dron·ing.
  1. to make a dull, continued, low, monotonous sound; hum; buzz.
  2. to speak in a monotonous tone.
  3. to proceed in a dull, monotonous manner (usually followed by on): The meeting droned on for hours.
verb (used with object), droned, dron·ing.
  1. to say in a dull, monotonous tone.
  1. Music.
    1. a continuous low tone produced by the bass pipes or bass strings of musical instruments.
    2. the pipes (especially of the bagpipe) or strings producing this tone.
    3. a bagpipe equipped with such pipes.
  2. a monotonous low tone; humming or buzzing sound.
  3. a person who speaks in a monotonous tone.

Origin of drone

1490–1500; see drone1 and compare Middle English droun to roar, Icelandic drynja to bellow, Gothic drunjus noise
Related formsdron·er, noundron·ing·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for droned

purr, whirr, sound, drawl, hum, vibrate, intone, strum, buzz, chant, bombinate, nasalize, thrum

Examples from the Web for droned

Historical Examples of droned

  • "The Sweet By and By" droned on, over and over, in the dark stuffiness of the crowded room.

    Galusha the Magnificent

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • All day long the town had droned and dosed under a drowsy heat.

  • “Your mind will be concerned only with the welfare of Caleb Barter,” droned on the voice.

    The Mind Master

    Arthur J. Burks

  • He droned on in the night, with rising and falling inflections.

    The Rescue

    Joseph Conrad

  • "True religion is the greatest boon," he droned sententiously.

    The Dragon Painter

    Mary McNeil Fenollosa

British Dictionary definitions for droned


  1. a male bee in a colony of social bees, whose sole function is to mate with the queen
  2. British a person who lives off the work of others
  3. a pilotless radio-controlled aircraft
Derived Formsdronish, adjective

Word Origin for drone

Old English drān; related to Old High German treno drone, Gothic drunjus noise, Greek tenthrēnē wasp; see drone ²


  1. (intr) to make a monotonous low dull sound; buzz or hum
  2. (when intr, often foll by on) to utter (words) in a monotonous tone, esp to talk without stopping
  1. a monotonous low dull sound
  2. music
    1. a sustained bass note or chord of unvarying pitch accompanying a melody
    2. (as modifier)a drone bass
  3. music one of the single-reed pipes in a set of bagpipes, used for accompanying the melody played on the chanter
  4. a person who speaks in a low monotonous tone
Derived Formsdroning, adjectivedroningly, adverb

Word Origin for drone

C16: related to drone 1 and Middle Dutch drōnen, German dröhnen
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

Word Origin and History for droned



Old English dran, dræn "male honeybee," from Proto-Germanic *dran- (cf. Middle Dutch drane; Old High German treno; German Drohne, which is from Middle Low German drone), probably imitative; given a figurative sense of "idler, lazy worker" (male bees make no honey) 1520s. Meaning "pilotless aircraft" is from 1946.

Drones, as the radio-controlled craft are called, have many potentialities, civilian and military. Some day huge mother ships may guide fleets of long-distance, cargo-carrying airplanes across continents and oceans. Long-range drones armed with atomic bombs could be flown by accompanying mother ships to their targets and in for perfect hits. ["Popular Science," November, 1946]

Meaning "deep, continuous humming sound" is early 16c., apparently imitative (cf. threnody). The verb in the sound sense is early 16c.; it often is the characteristic sound of airplane engines. Related: Droned; droning.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

droned in Science


  1. A male bee, especially a honeybee whose only function is to fertilize the queen. Drones have no stingers, do no work, and do not produce honey.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

droned in Culture


In military usage, a pilotless aircraft used for reconnaissance and, more recently, for launching aerial attacks.

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