[ tim-puh-nuhm ]
See synonyms for tympanum on Thesaurus.com
noun,plural tym·pa·nums, tym·pa·na [tim-puh-nuh]. /ˈtɪm pə nə/.
  1. Anatomy, Zoology.

  2. Architecture.

    • the recessed, usually triangular space enclosed between the horizontal and sloping cornices of a pediment, often decorated with sculpture.

    • a similar space between an arch and the horizontal head of a door or window below.

  1. Electricity. the diaphragm of a telephone.

  2. a drum or similar instrument.

  3. the stretched membrane forming a drumhead.

Origin of tympanum

1610–20; <Latin <Greek týmpanon drum, akin to týptein to beat, strike

Words Nearby tympanum

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use tympanum in a sentence

  • O thou philosophic Teufelsdrockh, that listenest while others only gabble, and with thy quick tympanum hearest the grass grow!

    Sartor Resartus | Thomas Carlyle
  • When the tympanum vibrates under the influence of the voice, the stylus acts as a pawl and turns a ratchet-wheel.

  • The tympanum T is that which is used for recording the sounds, and M is a mouthpiece, which is fixed to it for speaking purposes.

  • The other tympanum, T', reproduces the sounds; and E E is a branched ear-piece, conveying them to the two ears of the listener.

  • The air bladder therefore assists the ear of the catfish as the tympanum and its bones assist the ear of the higher animals.

British Dictionary definitions for tympanum


/ (ˈtɪmpənəm) /

nounplural -nums or -na (-nə)
  1. any diaphragm resembling that in the middle ear in function

  1. Also called: tympan architect

    • the recessed space bounded by the cornices of a pediment, esp one that is triangular in shape and ornamented

    • the recessed space bounded by an arch and the lintel of a doorway or window below it

  2. music a tympan or drum

  3. a scoop wheel for raising water

Origin of 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