ˈtäm-ˌtäm How to pronounce tom-tom (audio)
: a usually long and narrow small-headed drum commonly beaten with the hands
old-fashioned : tam-tam sense 2
: something used to make a noise suggestive of the tom-tom's beating
: a monotonous beating, rhythm, or rhythmical sound
or less commonly tom : a cylindrical two-headed drum of varying size often used in pairs in drum sets

Illustration of tom-tom

Illustration of tom-tom
  • tom-tom 1

Examples of tom-tom in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Even then, the casual denigration of Native American characters who were depicted in the script as playing tom-toms, holding powwows and speaking in pidgin English raised eyebrows. Mary Carole McCauley, Baltimore Sun, 21 Feb. 2024 But there’s always been the Beatle tom-toms, and even in those days, people were communicating with each other about their dissatisfactions. Rob Sheffield, Rolling Stone, 7 May 2024 Fertile fields that once knew the beat of tom-toms still hold beneath a carpet of blue grass, the bones of an ancient and extinct race. Bill Frist, Forbes, 19 Feb. 2024 In full concentration mode, Agustín handled the bass pedal and toms with aplomb, crossed his hands for some flair, and added some razzle dazzle with the cymbals, without missing a beat. Leila Cobo, Billboard, 18 June 2023 Each songs’ atmosphere is inaugurated by an extended instrumental piece that builds and builds, as compulsive bass hooks, thunderous toms, haunting guitar lines and swathes of cold synth artfully set the stage for Smith’s ghostly vocal. Liza Lentini, SPIN, 16 June 2023 The 85% adult tom proportion of the harvest was up two points over 2022 and in line with the average over the last decade, according to the DNR. Paul A. Smith, Journal Sentinel, 10 June 2023 This is another factor that Bunn believes may have led to his friend’s confusion about where the bird was located and how many toms were present. Russell Worth Parker, Outdoor Life, 11 May 2023 Putting hen and jake decoys is a popular combo, since mature toms are known to try and steal a hen from a subdominant jake. Nancy Jo Adams, Popular Mechanics, 11 May 2023

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

Word History


Hindi & Urdu ṭamṭam

First Known Use

1693, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of tom-tom was in 1693

Dictionary Entries Near tom-tom

Cite this Entry

“Tom-tom.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


: a usually long and narrow drum commonly beaten with the hands
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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