verb (used without object), droned, dron·ing.

to make a dull, continued, low, monotonous sound; hum; buzz.
to speak in a monotonous tone.
to proceed in a dull, monotonous manner (usually followed by on): The meeting droned on for hours.

verb (used with object), droned, dron·ing.

to say in a dull, 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 droning

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

Examples from the Web for droning

Contemporary Examples of droning

  • He stopped his droning speeches and adopted a feisty, homey style answering questions on the tours.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Obama’s Truman Moment

    Harold Evans

    September 9, 2011

  • Sort of a double life, like this Bob character you were droning on about earlier.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Please Don't Kill My TV Show!

    Kyle Killen

    September 26, 2010

Historical Examples of droning

  • Even the droning of the worrying mosquitoes had no power to disturb him.

    The Law-Breakers

    Ridgwell Cullum

  • It came droning, droning up the forty-odd thousand miles from the planet.

    Pariah Planet

    Murray Leinster

  • Jed, absorbed in his work and droning a hymn, apparently forgot all about his caller.


    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • Jed still sat there gazing at vacancy and droning, dolefully.


    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • Over the droning of the hymn she caught the sound of a horse's hoofs on the road.

    The Manxman

    Hall Caine

British Dictionary definitions for droning




a male bee in a colony of social bees, whose sole function is to mate with the queen
British a person who lives off the work of others
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




(intr) to make a monotonous low dull sound; buzz or hum
(when intr, often foll by on) to utter (words) in a monotonous tone, esp to talk without stopping


a monotonous low dull sound
  1. a sustained bass note or chord of unvarying pitch accompanying a melody
  2. (as modifier)a drone bass
music one of the single-reed pipes in a set of bagpipes, used for accompanying the melody played on the chanter
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 droning



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

droning in Science



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.

droning 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.