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[tam-buh-reen] /ˌtæm bəˈrin/
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
Related forms
tambourinist, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for tambourine
  • 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.
  • Overlarge case is a better tambourine than headphone holder.
  • If you want the even more lively version, complete with tambourine, you'll have to track it down on an album.
  • The answer would be a group of people, each with a tambourine in hand, performing precision routines.
  • The toys were sold with animal shaped accessories including a monkey, bird, tambourine and drum stick.
British Dictionary definitions for tambourine


(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
Derived Forms
tambourinist, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Middle Flemish tamborijn a little drum, from Old French: tambourin
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 tambourine

1782, in the modern sense of "parchment-covered hoop with pieces of metal attached;" earlier "a small drum" (1570s), from French tambourin "long narrow drum used in Provence," diminutive of tambour "drum," altered by influence of Arabic tunbur "drum" (originally "lute") from Old French 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 (1680s), also timbre and timbrel. Tambour itself is attested in English from late 15c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for tambourine

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.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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