early 15c., drom, "percussive musical instrument consisting of a hollow wooden or metallic body and a tightly stretched head of membrane," probably from Middle Dutch tromme "drum," a common Germanic word (compare German Trommel, Danish tromme, Swedish trumma) and probably imitative of the sound of one.
Not common before 1570s; the slightly older, and more common at first, word was drumslade, apparently from Dutch or Low German trommelslag "drum-beat," "though it does not appear how this name of the action came to be applied to the instrument" [OED], and the English word might be a shortening of this. Other earlier words for it were tabour (c. 1300, ultimately from Persian; see tabor) and timpan (Old English; see tympanum).
In machinery, the word was applied to various contrivances resembling a drum from 1740. In anatomy, "the tympanum of the ear," 1610s. Meaning "receptacle having the form of a drum" is by 1812. Drum-major (1590s) originally was "chief or first drummer of a military regiment;" later "one who directs the evolutions of a marching corps."