Definition of tom-tom in English:



  • 1A medium-sized cylindrical drum used in jazz bands, etc.

    • ‘The opening song marches back and forth, back and forth on the tom-toms, while guitar chords are smacked awake.’
    • ‘There's still no sign of synthesizers, but there are lots of tom-toms.’
    • ‘She batters her tom-toms at a tempo either ahead of or behind the guitars and vocals.’
    • ‘However, every time Rudolph turned his back, the band (in their usual mischievous way) would surreptitiously displace a tom-tom or a speaker, causing Roddy to become increasingly agitated.’
    • ‘The piece, scored for four percussionists, is played by the group using a big array of gongs, tam-tams, tom-toms, suspended brake drums and so on, but is neither bombastic nor boring.’
    • ‘Then the piano comes in, plays a little vamp for two bars, is then joined by tom-toms for another two bars before the vocals come in.’
    • ‘The snare drum takes precedence as the piano enters; tom-toms come in when the sax solo begins.’
    • ‘As for the drummer, suffice it to say he took it to another level with a much bigger kit, flying around the tom-toms and engaging in fierce double-bass song finales.’
    • ‘He started the concert by drumming with his hands on a tom-tom, eventually progressing to the entire kit.’
    • ‘The basic track featured Lennon on acoustic guitar, his vocal and a tom-tom (all recorded onto one track), with Harrison playing a tamboura.’
    • ‘Each time the teacher beats a tom-tom, a picture of a different animal is shown.’
    • ‘Suddenly he kneels down, places the remaining snare, cymbal, and tom-tom on the floor in a cluster, and begins to play his ‘broken’ drums, more interested in the set that he's created than in the one we bought.’
    • ‘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.’
    1. 1.1An early drum, of Native American or Asian origin, typically played with the hands.
      • ‘They even held a drumming session teaching youngsters how to play the tom-tom and bongos.’
      • ‘We went to a fair-trade import store and bought him a handmade tom-tom made of wood and hide with a lovely wooden drumstick.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Thai cultural activities are also part of the program, and this includes learning musical instruments and tom-toms.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, water is blowing in through the tepee's door, drenching the tom-toms and blankets.’


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



/ˈtäm ˌtäm/