ton·​al | \ ˈtō-nᵊl \

Definition of tonal

1 : of or relating to tone, tonality, or tonicity
2 : having tonality

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from tonal

tonally \ ˈtō-​nᵊl-​ē \ adverb

Examples of tonal in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

While Charlie and Bumblebee have an emotionally affecting relationship, the movie still suffers from tonal swings, particularly around John Cena’s portrayal of Agent Burns. Bryan Bishop, The Verge, "Bumblebee proves Transformers movies can actually be resonant and emotional," 20 Dec. 2018 The ethereal frock featured a cascading tulle train, accordion pleat work, and tonal embellishments for a sophisticated, subtle finish. Edward Barsamian, Vogue, "Inside Le Bal, the World’s Most Exclusive Debutante Ball," 28 Nov. 2018 Navigating tricky tonal ambiguities in classical texts is ISC’s forte. Philip Brandes,, "The 99-Seat Beat: Are we ready for some plays about moral responsibility?," 16 Mar. 2018 The Robyn Lynch aesthetic is comfortable, traditional, and tonal. Steff Yotka, Vogue, "Menswear’s New Guard Won’t Conform: Meet the Designers Shaking Up Fashion East This January," 13 Nov. 2018 But its tonal balance of airy anime and war drama feels sharper than ever. Steven Strom, Ars Technica, "Valkyria Chronicles 4 review: Same as it ever was," 21 Sep. 2018 So that’s why the whole left side is neutral—with eight tonal colors in total—and then the six shades on the right are for pops of color. Blake Newby, Glamour, "Manny MUA Talks Lunar Beauty, His Life's a Drag Palette, and More," 26 May 2018 The duo’s coordination in the Fantasie was practically telepathic, their tonal colors well matched. Christian Hertzog,, "Inon Barnatan and Garrick Ohlsson deliver masterful performances of late Schubert music," 25 Mar. 2018 His tonal, accessible, sometimes ravishing music combines the pulsing energy of minimalism with the sensuous melismas of ancient troubadour music and archaic dance forms. John Von Rhein,, "A gay love affair in '50s D.C. plays out to touching effect in 'Fellow Travelers'," 18 Mar. 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of tonal

1776, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about tonal

Dictionary Entries near tonal








Statistics for tonal

Last Updated

6 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for tonal

The first known use of tonal was in 1776

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for tonal



English Language Learners Definition of tonal

: of or relating to musical or color tones

music : having or based in a particular key

More from Merriam-Webster on tonal

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with tonal

Comments on tonal

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


someone who never drinks alcohol

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Homophone Quiz

  • three-bears-two-of-them-look-like-theyre-whispering-to-a-third-bear-who-looks-chuffed-to-be-the-center-of-attention
  • In order to judge how people felt, the senator's office hired a firm to take a ______.
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


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!