tam·​bou·​rine ˌtam-bə-ˈrēn How to pronounce tambourine (audio)
: a small drum
especially : a shallow one-headed drum with loose metallic disks at the sides played especially by shaking or striking with the hand

Illustration of tambourine

Illustration of tambourine

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Lindstrøm incorporated a number of acoustic instruments into the material, including triangles, tambourines, congas, timbales, and flutes, as well as an old Chinese cello and violin. Jonathan Cohen, SPIN, 24 May 2023 Michelle plays tambourine but obviously doesn’t know the lyrics while Kate air-kisses Patti Scialfa, Springsteen’s wife. Armond White, National Review, 3 May 2023 Obama sang backup vocals and played the tambourine alongside former actress Kate Capshaw, wife of filmmaker Steven Spielberg, and Patti Scialfa, E Street member and wife of Springsteen. Jessica Wang, EW.com, 30 Apr. 2023 Gram Parsons bashing a tambourine. Angie Martoccio, Rolling Stone, 9 Jan. 2022 Daisy then stays for the rest of the Six's set, playing tambourine and providing back-up vocals. Town & Country, 10 Mar. 2023 The Indians’ music initially involved chanting, drumming, tambourines, cowbells, and even sticks and soda bottles, says Melissa A. Weber, a curator at Tulane University Special Collections. Megan Ulu-lani Boyanton, Smithsonian Magazine, 21 Feb. 2023 As the sketch progressed, Sherman showed off more pustules on her body, each one featuring a different cast member’s face and a different gimmick: playing a tambourine, eating cheese, barfing up black gunk—all together creating a freakish little symphony. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, 6 Mar. 2022 In the snippet, the 39-year-old singer played the tambourine while wearing a bejeweled jumpsuit. Annie O’sullivan, Good Housekeeping, 11 Dec. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'tambourine.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle French tambourin, diminutive of tambour

First Known Use

1579, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of tambourine was in 1579

Dictionary Entries Near tambourine

Cite this Entry

“Tambourine.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tambourine. Accessed 9 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


tam·​bou·​rine ˌtam-bə-ˈrēn How to pronounce tambourine (audio)
: a shallow drum with one head and loose metal disks at the sides that is played by shaking or striking with the hand

More from Merriam-Webster on tambourine

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