Definition of timbal in English:


(also tymbal)

Pronunciation /ˈtimbəl/ /ˈtɪmbəl/


  • 1archaic A kettledrum.

    ‘The timbals beat time dully, and the exhausted guests, overcome by drunkenness, nausea and vertigo, became silent.’
    • ‘Ralph Irizarry, recognized worldwide as an excellent percussionist, first fell in love with the timbal at an early age when his father coincidentally brought home a set received as payment for a debt.’
    • ‘The percussion group is usually made up of timbals, drums, plates and bass drums and cymbals.’
  • 2Entomology
    A membrane that forms part of the sound-producing organ in various insects, such as the cicada.

    ‘Females of many cicadas whose males have exposed timbals lay their eggs only in living twigs or branches and their eggs hatch the same year as laid.’
    • ‘These ‘songs’ result from the vibration of their drum-like abdominal membranes (timbals).’
    • ‘Within a day or two, the adult males begin their cacophonous chorusing, producing sound by vibrating abdominal drums called timbals.’
    • ‘Cicada sounds are produced by a pair of timbals (also spelled tymbals).’


Late 17th century from French timbale, alteration (influenced by cymbale ‘cymbal’) of obsolete tamballe, from Spanish atabal, from Arabic aṭ-ṭabl ‘the drum’.