noun, plural tympanums, tympana [tim-puh-nuh] .
Anatomy, Zoology.
the recessed, usually triangular space enclosed between the horizontal and sloping cornices of a pediment, often decorated with sculpture.
a similar space between an arch and the horizontal head of a door or window below.
Electricity. the diaphragm of a telephone.
a drum or similar instrument.
the stretched membrane forming a drumhead.

1610–20; < Latin < Greek týmpanon drum, akin to týptein to beat, strike

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World English Dictionary
tympanum (ˈtɪmpənəm)
n , pl -nums, -na
1.  a.  the cavity of the middle ear
 b.  another name for tympanic membrane
2.  any diaphragm resembling that in the middle ear in function
3.  architect Also called: tympan
 a.  the recessed space bounded by the cornices of a pediment, esp one that is triangular in shape and ornamented
 b.  the recessed space bounded by an arch and the lintel of a doorway or window below it
4.  music a tympan or drum
5.  a scoop wheel for raising water
[C17: from Latin, from Greek tumpanon drum; related to Greek tuptein to beat]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

"drum of the ear," 1619, from M.L. tympanum, introduced in this sense by It. anatomist Gabriele Fallopio (1523-62), from L. tympanum "drum," from Gk. tympanon "a drum, panel of a door," from root of typtein "to beat, strike" (see type). Cf. O.E. timpan "drum, timbrel, tambourine,"
From L. tympanum. The modern meaning "a drum" is attested in Eng. from 1675. Tympanist "one who plays on a drum" is recorded from 1611; since mid-19c. specifically of players on kettledrums.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

tympanum tym·pa·num or tim·pa·num (tĭm'pə-nəm)
n. tym·pa·nums or tym·pa·na (-nə)

  1. See middle ear.

  2. See eardrum.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Example sentences
The top third was finished with a jarring pointed blind arch set in the
Doorframes might whirl up into a tympanum of wood or gilt copper repoussé,
  richly carved with deities and creatures.
The tympanum is a round circle located on the side of the head near the eye,
  and in males it is much larger than the eye.
They are brown to pink in color and are characterized by a dark mask extending
  from the eye backwards across the tympanum.
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