a small drum consisting of a circular frame with a skin stretched over it and several pairs of metal jingles attached to the frame, played by striking with the knuckles, shaking, and the like.

1570–80; earlier tamboryne < Middle Dutch tamborijn small drum < Middle French tambourin or Medieval Latin tamborīnum. See tambour, -ine1

tambourinist, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To tambourine
World English Dictionary
tambourine (ˌtæmbəˈriːn)
music a percussion instrument consisting of a single drumhead of skin stretched over a circular wooden frame hung with pairs of metal discs that jingle when it is struck or shaken
[C16: from Middle Flemish tamborijn a little drum, from Old French: tambourin]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
Cite This Source
Word Origin & History

1782, in the modern sense of "parchment-covered hoop with pieces of metal attached;" earlier "a small drum" (1579), from Fr. tambourin "long narrow drum used in Provence," dim. of tambour "drum," altered by infl. of Arabic tunbur "drum" (originally "lute") from O.Fr. tabour (see
tabor). The sense evolutions present some difficulties, and in some 17c. and early 18c. references it is difficult to say what sort of instrument is intended. Earlier names for this type of instrument were tambour de basque (1688), also timbre and timbrel. Tambour itself is attested in Eng. from 1484.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
Encyclopedia Britannica


small frame drum (one whose shell is too narrow to resonate the sound) having one or two skins nailed or glued to a shallow circular or polygonal frame. The tambourine is normally played with the bare hands and often has attached to it jingles, pellet bells, or snares. European tambourines typically have one skin and jingling disks set into the sides of the frame. The designation tambourine refers specifically to the European frame drum; however, the term is often extended to include all related frame drums, such as those of the Arabic countries, and sometimes those probably unrelated, such as the shaman's drums of Central Asia, North America, and the Arctic.

Learn more about tambourine with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
Cite This Source
Example sentences
It also employed call-and-response vocals and heavy use of tambourine.
He danced and did somersaults to the rhythm of a tambourine.
She lays down her little mat, and dances lightly, gracefully to her tambourine.
As they turned a corner, the sound of a tambourine came to them from a
  neighbouring side street.
Related Words
Images for tambourine
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature