in·​to·​na·​tion | \ ˌin-tə-ˈnā-shən How to pronounce intonation (audio) , -(ˌ)tō-\

Definition of intonation

1 : something that is intoned specifically : the opening tones of a Gregorian chant
2 : the act of intoning and especially of chanting
3 : the ability to play or sing notes in tune
4 : manner of utterance specifically : the rise and fall in pitch of the voice in speech

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Other Words from intonation

intonational \ ˌin-​tə-​ˈnā-​shnəl How to pronounce intonational (audio) , -​shə-​nᵊl , -​(ˌ)tō-​ \ adjective

Examples of intonation in a Sentence

identical sentences, differing only in intonation

Recent Examples on the Web

Double-stops proved a stumbling block for Woods, in the sonata’s first movement and throughout the recital, often turning sour in intonation. Washington Post, "A voyage of musical discovery at the Phillips Collection," 13 Sep. 2019 Now being developed by a wide range of Silicon Valley titans and AI startups, such voice-synthesis software can copy the rhythms and intonations of a person's voice and be used to produce convincing speech. Drew Harwell, Anchorage Daily News, "An artificial-intelligence first: Voice-mimicking software reportedly used in a major theft," 5 Sep. 2019 Finding her voice also meant Jacobson was able to take ownership of her songs in a way that gives them more power, both in clarity and intonation, as well as in their messaging. Britt Julious,, "Acting, honesty and a few detours lead to music, and a band named Fran," 29 Aug. 2019 Her intonation was perfect, even in the most passionate passages., "Familiar works enjoy new life on revelatory night with Cleveland Orchestra," 12 Aug. 2019 Verbal markers such as intonation, prosody, and emphasis are what allow Irony Man to imbue sarcasm into conversation. Daisy Hernandez, Popular Mechanics, "This Eye-Rolling Robot Understands Irony and Will Sass You Hard," 13 June 2019 The inconstant, tympanic thrumming of the fabric is an intonation underlying one shrieking run after another of banshee notes, some of them single tones within the squalling wind that sustain themselves for several seconds before dropping an octave. Barry Lopez, Harper's magazine, "Polar Light," 10 Jan. 2019 On a Strat-style bridge, the intonation of each string can be adjusted individually. Henry Robertson, Popular Mechanics, "How to Set Up a Guitar And Make It Your Own," 7 Dec. 2018 The intonation of each letter or number is all over the place, never flowing with normal beginning and ending tones that a human would use. Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica, "Talking to Google Duplex: Google’s human-like phone AI feels revolutionary," 27 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'intonation.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of intonation

1620, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for intonation

Last Updated

21 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for intonation

The first known use of intonation was in 1620

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English Language Learners Definition of intonation

: the rise and fall in the sound of your voice when you speak


in·​to·​na·​tion | \ ˌin-tə-ˈnā-shən How to pronounce intonation (audio) \

Kids Definition of intonation

: the rise and fall in pitch of the voice in speech

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More from Merriam-Webster on intonation

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with intonation

Spanish Central: Translation of intonation

Nglish: Translation of intonation for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of intonation for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about intonation

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