Definition of tom-tom in English:


Line breaks: tom-tom
Pronunciation: /ˈtɒmtɒm


  • 1A medium-sized cylindrical drum, of which one to three may be used in a drum kit.
    More example sentences
    • One or more floor tom-toms followed and by 1940 the drum kit had reached its present form, though any number of peripheral instruments may be added by the player.
    • The opening song marches back and forth, back and forth on the tom-toms, while guitar chords are smacked awake.
    • He started the concert by drumming with his hands on a tom-tom, eventually progressing to the entire kit.
  • 1.1A drum beaten with the hands, associated with North American Indian, African, or Eastern cultures.
    More example sentences
    • He struggled to walk onto the stage but played flute, tenor and alto sax, police whistle, African tom-toms and cow-bell with enviable vigour and verve.
    • She reinforces this hackneyed portrait by evoking African tom-toms.
    • Indian ceremonies, tom-toms, cheers, costumes, and painted faces may be part of their traditions.


[with object] chiefly Indian Back to top  
  • Proclaim or boast about: the government tom-tommed a 40 per cent turnout of the state’s electorate
    More example sentences
    • She's the latest to join the bandwagon, tom-tomming to the world the benefits of going veggie.
    • They tom-tom schemes which citizens seldom hear later.
    • Any amount of tom-tomming about the city being a hi-tech one cannot hide the fact that we are indeed living in a jungle.


late 17th century: from Hindi ṭam ṭam, Telugu ṭamaṭama, of imitative origin.

More definitions of tom-tom

Definition of tom-tom in:

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day maelstrom
Pronunciation: ˈmeɪlstrəm
a powerful whirlpool in the sea