tympanic membrane


: a thin membrane that closes externally the cavity of the middle ear and functions in the mechanical reception of sound waves and in their transmission to the site of sensory reception

called also eardrum

see ear illustration

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web After suction of ear a small soft foreign body was seen in the external ear near the tympanic membrane, then the ear filled with glycerine phenice, the patient explained decreased movement of foreign body. Seriously Science, Discover Magazine, 26 Feb. 2016 Garlic oil could seep past a perforated tympanic membrane into the inner ear, causing additional damage. Michael Daignault, USA TODAY, 28 Oct. 2021 Your eardrum, also known as your tympanic membrane, is where your middle ear begins. Amber Brenza, SELF, 4 Feb. 2018

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

Word History

First Known Use

1855, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of tympanic membrane was in 1855

Dictionary Entries Near tympanic membrane

Cite this Entry

“Tympanic membrane.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tympanic%20membrane. Accessed 5 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition

tympanic membrane

tym·​pan·​ic membrane

Medical Definition

tympanic membrane

: a thin membrane separating the middle ear from the inner part of the external auditory canal that vibrates in response to sound energy and transmits the resulting mechanical vibrations to the structures of the middle ear

called also eardrum, tympanum

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