n. & v.
n. 1 a a percussion instrument or toy made of a hollow cylinder or hemisphere covered at one or both ends with stretched skin or parchment and sounded by striking (bass drum; kettledrum). b (often in pl.) a drummer or a percussion section (the drums are playing too loud). c a sound made by or resembling that of a drum. 2 something resembling a drum in shape, esp.: a a cylindrical container or receptacle for oil, dried fruit, etc. b a cylinder or barrel in machinery on which something is wound etc. c Archit. the solid part of a Corinthian or composite capital. d Archit. a stone block forming a section of a shaft. e Austral. & NZ swag, a bundle. 3 Zool. & Anat. the membrane of the middle ear; the eardrum. 4 sl. a a house. b a nightclub. c a brothel. 5 (in full drum-fish) any marine fish of the family Sciaenidae, having a swim-bladder that produces a drumming sound. 6 hist. an evening or afternoon tea party. 7 Austral. sl. a piece of reliable information, esp. a racing tip.
v. (drummed, drumming) 1 intr. & tr. play on a drum. 2 tr. & intr. beat, tap, or thump (knuckles, feet, etc.) continuously (on something) (drummed on the table; drummed his feet; drumming at the window). 3 intr. (of a bird or an insect) make a loud, hollow noise with quivering wings. 4 tr. Austral. sl. provide with reliable information. drum brake a brake in which shoes on a vehicle press against the drum on a wheel. drum into drive (a lesson) into (a person) by persistence. drum machine an electronic device that imitates the sound of percussion instruments. drum major 1 the leader of a marching band. 2 archaic an NCO commanding the drummers of a regiment. drum majorette esp. US a member of a female baton-twirling parading group. drum out Mil. cashier (a soldier) by the beat of a drum; dismiss with ignominy. drum up summon, gather, or call up (needs to drum up more support).
[ obs. drombslade, drombyllsclad, f. LG trommelslag drum-beat f. trommel drum + slag beat ]