tympanum

noun

tym·​pa·​num ˈtim-pə-nəm How to pronounce tympanum (audio)
plural tympana ˈtim-pə-nə How to pronounce tympanum (audio) also tympanums
1
b
: a thin tense membrane covering an organ of hearing of an insect see insect illustration
c
: a membranous resonator in a sound-producing organ
2
a
: the recessed usually triangular face of a pediment within the frame made by the upper and lower cornices
b
: the space within an arch and above a lintel or a subordinate arch

Illustration of tympanum

Illustration of tympanum
  • 1 tympanum 2a

Examples of tympanum in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The insect ear possesses a thin sheet of tissue, known as the tympanum, that is much like the human eardrum. IEEE Spectrum, 22 May 2023 Although an insect’s tympanum is typically a millimeter or so wide, insects are capable of feats of hearing that currently require devices much larger in size. IEEE Spectrum, 22 May 2023 This was topped by a tympanum containing a pedimental scene of metallurgists, farmers and muses. James Verini, New York Times, 1 Sep. 2022 This is the tympanum, or more evocatively, the eardrum. Ed Yong, Discover Magazine, 15 Nov. 2012 Over the door is a stone tympanum adorned with the image of an open book, hinting at the building’s former life. Mike Scott, NOLA.com, 12 Aug. 2020

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

Word History

Etymology

Medieval Latin & Latin; Medieval Latin, eardrum, from Latin, drum, architectural panel, from Greek tympanon drum, kettledrum; perhaps akin to Greek typtein to beat

First Known Use

1619, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)

Time Traveler
The first known use of tympanum was in 1619

Dictionary Entries Near tympanum

Cite this Entry

“Tympanum.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tympanum. Accessed 13 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition

tympanum

noun
tym·​pa·​num ˈtim-pə-nəm How to pronounce tympanum (audio)
plural tympana -nə How to pronounce tympanum (audio) also tympanums
1
2
: a thin membrane of an insect covering an organ of hearing and transmitting vibrations produced by sound waves to it

Medical Definition

tympanum

noun
tym·​pa·​num ˈtim-pə-nəm How to pronounce tympanum (audio)
plural tympana -nə How to pronounce tympanum (audio) also tympanums

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