One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1(in letterpress printing) a layer of packing, typically of paper, placed between the platen and the paper to be printed to equalize the pressure over the whole forme.
- ‘In this photo I am folding an edge of the tympan paper over to place over the bottom platen.’
- ‘The pressman pulled on the bar, causing the platen to press the tympan on the inked type and taking the impression.’
- ‘One last point, however: when the card is removed the original image on the tympan sheet will be exposed.’
- ‘Please use the chase dimension only when ordering tympan for your ‘platen’ press.’
- ‘Jacques Derrida, in the preface to Margins of Philosophy, identifies the printing press-specifically, the ‘tympan’ as the agent of division.’
2Architectureanother term for tympanum
- ‘Of interest is the western portal of the vestry with twisted columns and tympans, arranged in a ledge.’
Late 16th century (in tympan (sense 1)): from French tympan or Latin tympanum (see tympanum). tympan (sense 2) dates from the early 18th century.
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