tim·​pa·​ni ˈtim-pə-nē How to pronounce timpani (audio)
variants or less commonly tympani
plural in form but singular or plural in construction
: a set of two or more kettledrums played by one performer in an orchestra or band

Examples of timpani in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web His solo was preceded by a clip of him as a younger man pounding away at timpani. Brad Auerbach, SPIN, 15 Nov. 2023 The tune is more mysterious and rhythmic, with flutes pulsing over a chugging guitar, two dark chords and thundering timpani. Tim Greiving, Los Angeles Times, 14 Nov. 2023 Liszt indicated that these notes should sound like muffled thumps on the timpani. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, 4 Sep. 2023 Um, it’s run by a guy, a former TV journalist named Brian timpani. Laura Johnston, cleveland, 4 Apr. 2022 The best moments were in tunnels, when the normally quiet mill plays a timpani solo of bass beats. Elana Scherr, Car and Driver, 5 Aug. 2023 The orchestra delivered a performance to take pride in, with the first few movements punctuated memorably by the precise and powerful timpani accents of percussionist Toby Grace; the second movement scherzo was light on its feet without sacrificing gravitas. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, 21 Aug. 2023 Horns were sometimes too prominent in textures, timpani sometimes attacked with unseemly violence. Scott Cantrell, Dallas News, 3 June 2023 The musical ensemble will include a string quartet, clarinets, marimba, timpani and glockenspiel. Pam Kragen, San Diego Union-Tribune, 9 Apr. 2023 See More

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

Word History


Italian, plural of timpano kettledrum, from Latin tympanum drum — more at tympanum

First Known Use

circa 1854, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of timpani was circa 1854

Dictionary Entries Near timpani

Cite this Entry

“Timpani.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/timpani. Accessed 10 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


noun plural
variants also tympani
: a set of two or three kettledrums played by one performer

More from Merriam-Webster on timpani

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