[ in-toh-ney-shuhn, -tuh- ]
See synonyms for intonation on
  1. 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.

  2. the act or manner of intonating.

  1. the manner of producing musical tones, specifically the relation in pitch of tones to their key or harmony.

  2. something that is intoned or chanted.

  3. 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

Other words from intonation

  • in·to·na·tion·al, adjective

Words Nearby intonation Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use intonation in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for intonation


/ (ˌɪntəʊˈneɪʃən) /

  1. the sound pattern of phrases and sentences produced by pitch variation in the voice

  2. the act or manner of intoning

  1. an intoned, chanted, or monotonous utterance; incantation

  2. music the opening of a piece of plainsong, sung by a soloist

  3. music

    • the correct or accurate pitching of intervals

    • the capacity to play or sing in tune: See also just intonation

Derived forms of intonation

  • 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