Etymology of Drum, Disk, Cylinder

By Xah Lee. Date: .

Drum roller, drum wheel, drum brake, Drum mixer, magnetic drum (early computer memory).

You wonder, why's it called “drum”? How illogical the usage. Should use “disk” or “cylinder”!

Etymology of drum. Turns out, it came from similarity of shape to drum (music instrument), first used in 1740.

drum (n.)

1540s, probably from Middle Dutch tromme “drum,” common Germanic (compare German Trommel, Danish tromme, Swedish trumma), probably of imitative origin. Not common before 1570s. Slightly older, and more common at first, was drumslade, apparently from Dutch or Low German trommelslag.

Machinery sense attested from 1740, from similarity of shape.

drum

then you wonder, what's the etymology of disk and cylinder?

etymology of disk: from game quoit, platter. From “to throw”, from “display”, “to show”.

disk (n.)

American English preferred spelling, 1660s, “round flat surface,” from Latin discus “quoit, discus, disk,” from Greek diskos “disk, quoit, platter,” related to dikein “throw,” from PIE *dik-skos-, from root *deik- “to show, pronounce solemnly; also in derivatives referring to the directing of words or objects” [Watkins]; see diction.

Sense of “phonograph disk” is 1888; computing sense is from 1947. Disk jockey first recorded 1941; dee-jay is from 1955; DJ is 1961; video version veejay is 1982. Disk-drive is from 1952.

disk

So, imagine, for cavemen, to “show” is to “throw”, and that's same as plate, or the game of throwing plates.

Logicality of disk being flat round thing totally shattered.

so what's the etymology of cylinder? well, it came from “roller”, from “to roll”.

cylinder (n.)

1560s, from Middle French cylindre (14c.), from Latin cylindrus “roller, cylinder,” from Greek kylindros “a cylinder, roller, roll,” from kylindein “to roll,” which is of unknown origin.

cylinder

So, when a caveman rolls on the floor, he is a cylinder.

So, “drum” is actually the most logical word than disk or cylinder. As it it's the only one that has to do with shape.

basically, all words came from analogy. The desire to use the most logical, precise word, is somewhat ill founded.

so next time, if u want to show off your latest iPhone, you throw it!

at this point, it's proper to wonder, is there a etymology tree of words? and what percentage came from analogy, and what are the words to begin with?