verb (used with object), strummed, strum·ming.

to play on (a stringed musical instrument) by running the fingers lightly across the strings.
to produce (notes, a melody, etc.) by such playing: to strum a tune.

verb (used without object), strummed, strum·ming.

to play on a stringed musical instrument by running the fingers lightly across the strings.


the act of strumming.
the sound produced by strumming.

Origin of strum

1765–75; perhaps blend of string and thrum1
Related formsstrum·mer, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for strummed

plunk, pluck, pick

Examples from the Web for strummed

Contemporary Examples of strummed

Historical Examples of strummed

  • An instrument on which the keynote is strummed to accompany singing.

    My Reminiscences

    Rabindranath Tagore

  • One strummed a lute, and they were singing together in Latin.

  • One negro began chanting while the other strummed carelessly on the guitar.

    Three Soldiers

    John Dos Passos

  • I cannot have it strummed on and put out of tune by everybody.

    The Woman-Hater

    Charles Reade

  • He strummed softly, swaying to the rhythm of what he played.

    The Wave

    Algernon Blackwood

British Dictionary definitions for strummed


verb strums, strumming or strummed

to sound (the strings of a guitar, banjo, etc) with a downward or upward sweep of the thumb or of a plectrum
to play (chords, a tune, etc) in this way
Derived Formsstrummer, noun

Word Origin for strum

C18: probably of imitative origin; see thrum 1
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 strummed



1775, possibly imitative of the sound of running the fingers across the strings of a musical instrument. Related: Strummed; strumming.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper