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[muh-not-n-uh s] /məˈnɒt n əs/
lacking in variety; tediously unvarying:
the monotonous flat scenery.
characterizing a sound continuing on one note.
having very little inflection; limited to a narrow pitch range.
Origin of monotonous
From the Late Greek word monótonos, dating back to 1770-80. See mono-, tone, -ous
Related forms
monotonously, adverb
monotonousness, noun
unmonotonous, adjective
unmonotonously, adverb
Can be confused
monotonic, monotonous.
1. tedious, humdrum, boring, dull. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for monotonous
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • This flash of gold is the only brightness in the place, otherwise dull and monotonous.

    The Roof of France Matilda Betham-Edwards
  • That is why his face was so smooth and cold, his eyes so dull and his voice so monotonous.

    The Underdog F. Hopkinson Smith
  • He climbed up to his old perch and resumed his monotonous whining: Wah!

    Johnny Bear E. T. Seton
  • All other sounds were dominated by the monotonous shouts of the gondoliers.

    Casanova's Homecoming Arthur Schnitzler
  • To lead a life as monotonous as mine has been during many years, is not the way to forget.

    Little Dorrit Charles Dickens
British Dictionary definitions for monotonous


dull and tedious, esp because of repetition
unvarying in pitch or cadence
Derived Forms
monotonously, adverb
monotonousness, noun
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 monotonous

1750, of sound, from Greek monotonos "of one tone" (see monotony). Transferred and figurative use, "lacking in variety, uninteresting," is from 1783. Related: Monotonously.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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