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 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, "Wet Is Better for Tonal Languages," 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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about nontonal

Time Traveler for nontonal

Time Traveler

The first known use of nontonal was in 1922

See more words from the same year

Statistics for nontonal

Cite this Entry

“Nontonal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Sep. 2020.

Comments on nontonal

What made you want to look up nontonal? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Vocabulary Quiz Returns!

  • stylized drawing of woman pole vaulting across gap to get trophy
  • Which is a synonym of fuliginous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!