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[drohn] /droʊn/
verb (used without object), droned, droning.
to make a dull, continued, low, monotonous sound; hum; buzz.
to speak in a monotonous tone.
to proceed in a dull, monotonous manner (usually followed by on):
The meeting droned on for hours.
verb (used with object), droned, droning.
to say in a dull, monotonous tone.
  1. a continuous low tone produced by the bass pipes or bass strings of musical instruments.
  2. the pipes (especially of the bagpipe) or strings producing this tone.
  3. a bagpipe equipped with such pipes.
a monotonous low tone; humming or buzzing sound.
a person who speaks in a monotonous tone.
Origin of drone2
1490-1500; see drone1 and compare Middle English droun to roar, Icelandic drynja to bellow, Gothic drunjus noise
Related forms
droner, noun
droningly, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for droning
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • There was the chatter of a regiment of monkeys, the call of night birds innumerable, and the droning hum of the insects.

    With Wolseley to Kumasi F.S. Brereton
  • It came droning, droning up the forty-odd thousand miles from the planet.

    Pariah Planet Murray Leinster
  • The droning voice of Uncle Eb and the feel of his hand upon my forehead called me back, blinking, once or twice, but not for long.

    Eben Holden Irving Bacheller
  • Over the droning of the hymn she caught the sound of a horse's hoofs on the road.

    The Manxman Hall Caine
  • It was like the sound of droning machinery, only very faint.

    The Watchers of the Plains Ridgewell Cullum
  • Then the droning voice of the Puritan minister greeted them.

    The Tavern Knight Rafael Sabatini
  • By the winter of '49, the drowsy, droning Spanish town had expanded into a little excited city.

  • Naught was heard save the droning of the students and the sough of the wind in the forest.

British Dictionary definitions for droning


a male bee in a colony of social bees, whose sole function is to mate with the queen
(Brit) a person who lives off the work of others
a pilotless radio-controlled aircraft
Derived Forms
dronish, adjective
Word Origin
Old English drān; related to Old High German treno drone, Gothic drunjus noise, Greek tenthrēnē wasp; see drone²


(intransitive) to make a monotonous low dull sound; buzz or hum
when intr, often foll by on. to utter (words) in a monotonous tone, esp to talk without stopping
a monotonous low dull sound
  1. a sustained bass note or chord of unvarying pitch accompanying a melody
  2. (as modifier): a drone bass
(music) one of the single-reed pipes in a set of bagpipes, used for accompanying the melody played on the chanter
a person who speaks in a low monotonous tone
Derived Forms
droning, adjective
droningly, adverb
Word Origin
C16: related to drone1 and Middle Dutch drōnen, German dröhnen
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for droning



Old English dran, dræn "male honeybee," from Proto-Germanic *dran- (cf. Middle Dutch drane; Old High German treno; German Drohne, which is from Middle Low German drone), probably imitative; given a figurative sense of "idler, lazy worker" (male bees make no honey) 1520s. Meaning "pilotless aircraft" is from 1946.

Drones, as the radio-controlled craft are called, have many potentialities, civilian and military. Some day huge mother ships may guide fleets of long-distance, cargo-carrying airplanes across continents and oceans. Long-range drones armed with atomic bombs could be flown by accompanying mother ships to their targets and in for perfect hits. ["Popular Science," November, 1946]
Meaning "deep, continuous humming sound" is early 16c., apparently imitative (cf. threnody). The verb in the sound sense is early 16c.; it often is the characteristic sound of airplane engines. Related: Droned; droning.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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droning in Science
A male bee, especially a honeybee whose only function is to fertilize the queen. Drones have no stingers, do no work, and do not produce honey.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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droning in Culture

drone definition

In military usage, a pilotless aircraft used for reconnaissance and, more recently, for launching aerial attacks.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for droning



  1. A boring person; drip, wimp (1930s+ Students)
  2. A small unmanned aircraft used as a target for gunnery practice (1940s+)
The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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