• synonyms


[ tim-puh-nuh m ]
/ ˈtɪm pə nəm /

noun, plural tym·pa·nums, tym·pa·na [tim-puh-nuh] /ˈtɪm pə nə/.

Anatomy, Zoology.
  1. middle ear.
  2. tympanic membrane.
  1. the recessed, usually triangular space enclosed between the horizontal and sloping cornices of a pediment, often decorated with sculpture.
  2. a similar space between an arch and the horizontal head of a door or window below.
Electricity. the diaphragm of a telephone.
a drum or similar instrument.
the stretched membrane forming a drumhead.

Nearby words

tympanoplasty, tympanostomy, tympanostomy tube, tympanotomy, tympanous, tympanum, tympany, tyndale, tyndale, william, tyndall, tyndall beam

Origin of tympanum

1610–20; < Latin < Greek týmpanon drum, akin to týptein to beat, strike Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for tympanum

British Dictionary definitions for tympanum


/ (ˈtɪmpənəm) /

noun plural -nums or -na (-nə)

  1. the cavity of the middle ear
  2. another name for tympanic membrane
any diaphragm resembling that in the middle ear in function
Also called: tympan architect
  1. the recessed space bounded by the cornices of a pediment, esp one that is triangular in shape and ornamented
  2. the recessed space bounded by an arch and the lintel of a doorway or window below it
music a tympan or drum
a scoop wheel for raising water

Word Origin for tympanum

C17: from Latin, from Greek tumpanon drum; related to Greek tuptein to beat
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 tympanum



"drum of the ear," 1610s, from Medieval Latin tympanum, introduced in this sense by Italian anatomist Gabriello Fallopio (1523-1562), from Latin tympanum "drum," from Greek tympanon "a drum, panel of a door," from root of typtein "to beat, strike" (see type (n.)). Cf. Old English timpan "drum, timbrel, tambourine," from Latin tympanum. The modern meaning "a drum" is attested in English from 1670s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for tympanum


n. pl. tym•pa•nums

middle ear
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.