Baguette de tambour

Les baguettes de tambour, de

Yesterday I discovered that in French a drumstick is a baguette de tambour, which conjured up images of French drummers playing their drums with long loaves of bread.

The word baguette comes from the Italian word bacchetta (little rod), a diminutive of bacchio (rod), from the Latin baculum (stick, staff). As well as meaning a type of French bread, it can also refer to “a small moulding of semicircular section” and “a gem, ususually a diamond, cut in a long rectangular shape” [Source: OED].

The French word tambour, which is also found in English and means a frame used in embroidery or a drum, comes from the Persian word tabῑr or from the Arabic word ṭubūl, which both mean ‘drum’. The word tambourine comes from the same root, as does timbre [source].

Some more drum-related French vocabulary:

- le tambour = drum
- la batterie = drum kit / drums
- je joue de la batterie = I play the drums
- tambouriner = to drum
- pianoter / tambouriner sur la table = to drum one’s fingers on the table
- le tambourin = tambourine
- le (joueur de) tambour = drummer
- batteur (-euse) = drummer (in rock/jazz band)
- le roulement de tambour = drum roll
- la caisse claire = side/snare drum
- la grosse caisse = bass drum
- la boîte à rythme = drum machine
- le tambour de frein = brake drum
- le bidon de pétrole = oil drum

Source: Reverso

This entry was posted in English, Etymology, French, Italian, Language, Latin, Words and phrases.

7 Responses to Baguette de tambour

  1. Alex says:

    Staying with the musical theme, ‘baguette’ is also a conductor’s baton so “conducted by Simon Rattle” can be translated as “à la baguette Simon Rattle” or “avec Simon Rattle à la baguette”.

  2. Mark says:

    And baguette is the word for ‘wand’ (as in a magic wand, baguette magique); JK Rowling wanted to call the French school of wizardry ‘beautiful wands’ in French, but on finding out that a literal translation of this would put English-language readers in mind of bread, she opted for Beauxbâtons.

  3. Chris Miller says:

    …and baguettes also means ‘chopsticks’.

  4. Michel says:

    Can I add that Mrs Merkel used to “mener à la baguette” Mr Sarkozy !!!

  5. D.Jay says:

    Did you mean brake drum?

  6. Simon says:

    Yes, of course.

  7. Petréa Mitchell says:


    Interesting that English has borrowed a French word along the way which now has to be translated to a different word in modern French. (Or is “bâton” still also a reasonable French word for the conductor’s stick?)

    “Baton” is from the same root, of course. Another musical connection: it’s also related to beadle (and J. K. Rowling’s Beedle the Bard) and its British variation, beatle.