a drum of American Indian or Asian origin, commonly played with the hands.
a dully repetitious drumbeat or similar sound.

Nearby words

  1. tom sawyer,
  2. tom sawyer, the adventures of,
  3. tom thumb,
  4. tom, dick and jerry,
  5. tom, dick, and harry,
  6. tomahawk,
  7. tomalley,
  8. toman,
  9. tomatillo,
  10. tomato

Also tam-tam.

Origin of tom-tom

First recorded in 1685–95, tom-tom is from the Hindi word ṭamṭam Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for tom-tom

British Dictionary definitions for tom-tom



a drum associated either with the American Indians or with Eastern cultures, usually beaten with the hands as a signalling instrument
a standard cylindrical drum, normally with one drumhead
a monotonous drumming or beating sound

verb -toms, -tomming or -tommed

(tr) informal to pass (information, esp gossip) around a community very quickly

Word Origin for tom-tom

C17: from Hindi tamtam, of imitative origin

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 tom-tom



1690s, "drum" (originally used in India), from Hindi tam-tam, probably of imitative origin (cf. Sinhalese tamat tama and Malay tong-tong).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper