Try Our Apps


Avoid these words. Seriously.


[in-toh-ney-shuh n, -tuh-] /ˌɪn toʊˈneɪ ʃən, -tə-/
the pattern or melody of pitch changes in connected speech, especially the pitch pattern of a sentence, which distinguishes kinds of sentences or speakers of different language cultures.
the act or manner of intonating.
the manner of producing musical tones, specifically the relation in pitch of tones to their key or harmony.
something that is intoned or chanted.
the opening phrase in a Gregorian chant, usually sung by one or two voices.
Origin of intonation
First recorded in 1610-20, intonation is from the Medieval Latin word intonātiōn- (stem of intonātiō). See intonate, -ion
Related forms
intonational, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for intonation
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • A sudden throb of shock masked in the surface indifference of intonation.

    Within the Law Marvin Dana
  • The intonation of the Ungava Eskimos, particularly the women, is like a plaint.

    The Long Labrador Trail Dillon Wallace
  • Something in his intonation, some change in his face, gripped hold of Duncan.

    The Avenger E. Phillips Oppenheim
  • Mademoiselle caught the meaning of the intonation rather than any in the words.

    Louisiana Lou William West Winter
  • "Say, Rossi isn't an anarchist," said a man with an American intonation.

    The Eternal City Hall Caine
  • The very speech and intonation of the one has melody, of the other harshness.

    The Sportsman Xenophon
  • The intonation which his voice gave to it now caused her to look up quickly.

    The Market-Place Harold Frederic
British Dictionary definitions for intonation


the sound pattern of phrases and sentences produced by pitch variation in the voice
the act or manner of intoning
an intoned, chanted, or monotonous utterance; incantation
(music) the opening of a piece of plainsong, sung by a soloist
  1. the correct or accurate pitching of intervals
  2. the capacity to play or sing in tune See also just intonation
Derived Forms
intonational, adjective
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for intonation

1610s, "opening phrase of a melody," from French intonation, from Medieval Latin intonationem (nominative intonatio), from past participle stem of intonare (see intone). Meaning "modulation of the voice in speaking" is from 1791.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Nearby words for intonation

Word Value for intonation

Scrabble Words With Friends