Definition of tympanum in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈtɪmpənəm/

noun (plural tympanums or tympana /ˈtɪmpənə/)

1 Anatomy & Zoology The tympanic membrane or eardrum.
Example sentences
  • Males call not in choruses, but individually, though adults of both sexes appear to lack tympana (eardrums).
  • In turn, the embayment of the squamosal or cheek region was associated with the development of a tympanum or ear drum.
  • That approach is limited to proceeding no further than the stimulation of sensory receptor sheets (retina, skin, taste buds, tympanum, olfactories).
1.1 Entomology A membrane covering the hearing organ on the leg or body of some insects, sometimes adapted (as in cicadas) for producing sound.
Example sentences
  • The adults have no tympana and have never been observed vocalizing.
  • Find the tympanum on the grasshopper.
  • In the Orthoptera (Grasshoppers and Crickets) tympanum are common.
2 Architecture A vertical recessed triangular space forming the centre of a pediment, typically decorated.
Example sentences
  • The cathedral of St-Etienne dates from the eleventh century but its north portal with its distinctive, well preserved tympanum depicting the Ascension instead of the more typical Last Judgement was carved in the next century.
  • The carvers at Kilpeck also linked the Tree of Life carved on the tympanum with identical foliage gushing from the Green Man on the capital directly below.
  • Some of the ornamental details, such as the projecting shell of the tympanum, are also found on case pieces made in Salem and Newburyport, Massachusetts.
2.1A recessed triangular space over a door between the lintel and the arch.
Example sentences
  • In October 1903, after the lintels, tympana, and doors were in place, Mrs. Vanderbilt wrote Stanford White.
  • Although now installed in the north transept of the later church, the plaque exactly fits a cavity in the tympanum over the original door giving access from the Panteon to the main sanctuary.
  • On the other side of the center door the tympanum shows Jesus giving a blessing with the words pax vobiscum (peace be with you).
3 archaic A drum.


Early 17th century: via Latin from Greek tumpanon 'drum', based on tuptein 'to strike'.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: tym|pa¦num

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