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

Definition of tympanum

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
2a : 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 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 example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tympanum.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of tympanum

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

History and Etymology for tympanum

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

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The first known use of tympanum was in 1619

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Cite this Entry

“Tympanum.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tympanum. Accessed 16 Oct. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of tympanum


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

Medical Definition of tympanum

More from Merriam-Webster on tympanum

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about tympanum


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