Definition of tambour in English:



  • 1historical A small drum.

    • ‘Today, the tambour has found its rightful place, a typical orchestra is made up of a tambour and a diatonic accordion, complemented by some percussion instruments: triangle, drum sticks, objects filled with grains producing a sound close to the maracas and empty tinned cans that are rubbed or struck.’
    • ‘The Tambour also plays ongoing rolls at ranging speeds that provides a bass for the improvisation as a whole, as does the Triangle whose sounds are very softly present behind the entire improvisation, blending with the Cow Bell and Agogo.’
    • ‘As the tambour (drum) was a spurned instrument, only the triangle could bring a strong support destined to accentuate the rhythms of the accordion dance.’
  • 2Something resembling a drum in shape or construction, in particular.

    • ‘This special anniversary edition tambour mantel clock features decorative egg-and-dart molding that wraps around the base, and rare olive ash burl overlays accenting the front.’
    • ‘The wood tambour skirt is a popular chocolate fountain accessory that easily transforms a chocolate fountain into an elegant display.’
    • ‘A classic tambour, which is finished in Cherry on select hardwoods and genuine Olive Ash Burl veneers, features a carved sloping scroll design that cradles the dial and adds a sleek yet elegant shape to this beautiful mantle clock supported by polished brass bun feet.’
    1. 2.1A circular frame for holding fabric taut while it is being embroidered.
      • ‘A very similar application of screw threads was used in the stretchers for tambour and tapestry frames, except that the stretching was applied to both directions of the canvas yarns.’
      • ‘A tambour frame will be familiar to most people who know anything about embroidery.’
      • ‘The Tajik style of tapestries typically has floral designs on silk or cotton and is made on a tambour frame.’
      • ‘She stoops over her heavy tambour frame, at work that fascinates her black spaniel dog, which stands with its forepaws on the front bar to watch her dexterity.’
    2. 2.2Architecture A wall of circular plan, such as one supporting a dome or surrounded by a colonnade.
      • ‘Without these sagacities, the brickwork of the tambour, in addition to taking a very long time so that the concrete could dry up and solidify, would surely have been too heavy to support the dome.’
      • ‘This artistic masterpiece of all time, which still dominates the panorama in Rome from wherever one looks, even from the sky, was built from the design by Michelangelo, who supervised the work on it until the completion of the tambour.’
      • ‘In the fourteenth century, Macedonia was annexed by Serbia and numerous churches were renovated and built, mostly in the shape with a central cupola placed on a high tambour.’
    3. 2.3Architecture Each of a sequence of cylindrical stones forming the shaft of a column.
    4. 2.4A projecting part of the wall of a tennis court.
      • ‘All serving is done on one side while the other is called the ‘receiving’ or ‘hazard’ side due to the protruding tambour.’
      • ‘The practical significance of the tambour is that if you hit a shot off the sloped section (the ‘face’), it changes direction ninety degrees.’
      • ‘Furthermore the angle of wall and floor and the peculiar hazard of the tambour (which diverts the ball across the court) makes an inexperienced player very uncertain in which direction a ball will travel.’
      • ‘There are minor differences in the width or angle of the penthouse roof above the corridor and in the width of the tambour as well as the dimensions of the court.’
    5. 2.5[usually as modifier]A sliding flexible shutter or door on a piece of furniture, made of strips of wood attached to a backing of canvas.
      ‘a tambour door’
      • ‘Such is the case with the labeled tambour desk-and-bookcase illustrated above, now safely in the Museum in Augusta.’
      • ‘Its wide arched opening with tambour doors is a notable detail sometimes found on furniture from the Salem area.’
      • ‘Floors jetty out, but are seemingly pulled back by the tambour shutters that make up the facade.’
      • ‘The bedrooms each had a fitted wardrobe with a large mahogany sliding or tambour door (those in the smaller bedrooms concealing a vanity unit), which gave the rooms a tidy appearance and enabled them to be more simply furnished.’
      • ‘For example, multi-slatted tambours are utilized inside the desk to cause the writing surface to work in conjunction with the main barrel roll.’


  • Decorate or embroider on a tambour.

    ‘a tamboured waistcoat’
    • ‘Coggeshall and tamboured lace has cotton net mounted into a frame and is worked using a tambour hook to make a continuous chain stitch to outline the design and create the fillings.’
    • ‘In this hospital the poor are well lodged, clothed, and fed; the house is kept clean and well aired; the young are instructed in the principles of religion, in reading English, and a little writing and are employed in such labour as is fitted for them, as making thread lace, tambouring muslins, setting card teeth etc.’
    • ‘He and his daughters set up a tambour room where the women and little girls were taught to tambour and, I imagine, where they later went to work each day as carrying a large frame from place to place would not be very convenient.’
    • ‘The west of Scotland was renowned for tamboured muslins, which were produced by women and girls working from home.’
    • ‘The shawl is made from fine black cotton machine-made net that is hand embroidered with delicate tamboured floral sprays.’


Late 15th century: from French tambour drum; perhaps related to Persian tabīra drum Compare with tabor.