verb (used with object), in·toned, in·ton·ing.

to utter with a particular tone or voice modulation.
to give tone or variety of tone to; vocalize.
to utter in a singing voice (the first tones of a section in a liturgical service).
to recite or chant in monotone.

verb (used without object), in·toned, in·ton·ing.

to speak or recite in a singing voice, especially in monotone; chant.
Music. to produce a tone, or a particular series of tones, like a scale, especially with the voice.

Origin of intone

1475–85; < Medieval Latin intonāre; replacing earlier entone < Middle French entoner < Medieval Latin; see in-2, tone
Related formsin·ton·er, nounhalf-in·toned, adjectiveun·in·toned, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for intone

recite, sing, croon, articulate, chant, cant, modulate

Examples from the Web for intone

Contemporary Examples of intone

Historical Examples of intone

  • Intone, nevertheless, he did; and as badly as mortal man well could!

  • We will intone the battle-psalms, and from the Lozre to the sea Israel shall arise.

    Eli and Sibyl Jones

    Rufus Matthew Jones

  • But considered as a whole, the singers are like actors, who intone instead of speaking.

  • Only a few months before she had seldom seen him intone grace at all.

  • I seized the Targa's arm as he was starting to intone his refrain for the third time.


    Pierre Benoit

British Dictionary definitions for intone



to utter, recite, or sing (a chant, prayer, etc) in a monotonous or incantatory tone
(intr) to speak with a particular or characteristic intonation or tone
to sing (the opening phrase of a psalm, etc) in plainsong
Derived Formsintoner, noun

Word Origin for intone

C15: from Medieval Latin intonare, from in- ² + tone
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

Word Origin and History for intone

late 14c., entunen "sing, chant, recite," from Old French entoner "sing, chant" (13c.), from Medieval Latin intonare "sing according to tone," from Latin in- "in" (see in- (2)) + tonus "tone," from Greek tonos (see tenet). A different verb intone was in use 17c.18c., from Latin intonare "to thunder, resound," figuratively "to cry out vehemently," from tonare "to thunder." Related: Intoned; intoning.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper