Definition of tympanum in English:



  • 1Anatomy Zoology
    The tympanic membrane or eardrum.

    • ‘Males call not in choruses, but individually, though adults of both sexes appear to lack tympana (eardrums).’
    • ‘The tympanum of turtles is supported by a deep quadrate emargination, and the stapes of turtles is slender because it must vibrate quickly to transmit the sounds from the tympanum to the middle ear.’
    • ‘The lenticular process is substantially longer than the arm of the manubrium which connects the tympanum to the articular facet.’
    • ‘That approach is limited to proceeding no further than the stimulation of sensory receptor sheets (retina, skin, taste buds, tympanum, olfactories).’
    • ‘In turn, the embayment of the squamosal or cheek region was associated with the development of a tympanum or ear drum.’
    1. 1.1Entomology A membrane covering the hearing organ on the leg or body of some insects, sometimes adapted (as in cicadas) for producing sound.
      • ‘Find the tympanum on the grasshopper.’
      • ‘In the Orthoptera (Grasshoppers and Crickets) tympanum are common.’
      • ‘The adults have no tympana and have never been observed vocalizing.’
      • ‘The typical insect tympanum is round or oval and membranous in appearance.’
      • ‘The paired auditory organ, the tympanum, is located on the first abdominal segment.’
  • 2Architecture
    A vertical recessed triangular space forming the centre of a pediment, typically decorated.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Architectural stone sculpture was traditionally highlighted with paint and remains survive, for instance, in the tympanum of the basilica of S. Madeleine in Vézelay, France, or on the façade of Conques.’
    • ‘Inserted as a tympanum into the skylight of the rear gallery, Red Brace involved LED ‘beams’ that gave the illusion of floating and moving up and down in space.’
    • ‘Similar images commonly appear within French Romanesque tympana of the Last Judgment.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The melancholy chief was a magnification of a figure incorporated into Crawford's earlier tympanum frieze of the Senate wing at the United States Capitol.’
    1. 2.1 A recessed triangular space over a door between the lintel and the arch.
      • ‘The tympanum over the door contained a white marble medallion relief of a mother nursing her children.’
      • ‘In October 1903, after the lintels, tympana, and doors were in place, Mrs. Vanderbilt wrote Stanford White.’
      • ‘The center doorway is decorated with an elegant tympanum border of marble carved with foliage.’
      • ‘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).’
  • 3archaic A drum.


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