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

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web 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 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.

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 30 Jan. 2023.

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

More from Merriam-Webster on tympanum

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