non·​ton·​al | \ ˌnän-ˈtō-nᵊl How to pronounce nontonal (audio) \

Definition of nontonal

: not tonal: such as
a music : not having or based in a particular key : atonal nontonal music
b linguistics : not using pitch to express differences of meaning between words nontonal languages

Examples of nontonal in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web This articulation of speech within a whistle only works for nontonal languages, where the pitch of speech sounds isn’t crucial to the meaning of the word. Bob Holmes, Smithsonian Magazine, 24 Aug. 2021 Overall, only one in 30 complex tonal languages flourished in dry areas; one in three nontonal languages cropped up in those same regions. Sarah Lewin Frasier, Scientific American, 1 Apr. 2015

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

First Known Use of nontonal

1922, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of nontonal was in 1922

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Last Updated

1 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Nontonal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Sep. 2021.

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