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. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for droner


  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 droner



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

droner 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.

droner 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.