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90s Slang You Should Know


[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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for intonation
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • As they walked into the deep shadows, her voice took on an intonation like a suppressed sob.

    The Readjustment Will Irwin
  • She gave every intonation all it could carry, and without the least emphasis: that's the wonder.

    Coming Home Edith Wharton
  • Their intonation carried conviction that the men meant literally every impressive line they uttered.

    The Note-Book of an Attache Eric Fisher Wood
  • The intonation was gentle, and sweet to hear—as sweet as her rosy face to see.

    Desert Dust Edwin L. Sabin
  • His tone is warm and pleasing, but not large, his intonation is not always sure.

  • His blatancy was arrested by the intonation of another hymn.

    Desert Dust Edwin L. Sabin
  • Because the intonation was not English at all, but American.

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
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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
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