Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The act of intoning or chanting.
  • n. An intoned utterance.
  • n. A manner of producing or uttering tones, especially with regard to accuracy of pitch.
  • n. Linguistics The use of changing pitch to convey syntactic information: a questioning intonation.
  • n. A use of pitch characteristic of a speaker or dialect: "He could hear authority, the old parish intonation coming back into his voice” ( Graham Greene).
  • n. Music The opening phrase of a plainsong composition sung as a solo part.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The rise and fall of the voice in speaking.
  • n. The act of sounding the tones of the musical scale.
  • n. Singing or playing in good tune or otherwise.
  • n. Reciting in a musical prolonged tone; intonating or singing of the opening phrase of a plain-chant, psalm, or canticle by a single voice, as of a priest.
  • n. A thundering; thunder.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A thundering; thunder.
  • n.
  • n. The act of sounding the tones of the musical scale.
  • n. Singing or playing in good tune or otherwise.
  • n. Reciting in a musical prolonged tone; intonating, or singing of the opening phrase of a plain-chant, psalm, or canticle by a single voice, as of a priest. See intone, v. t.
  • n. The manner of speaking, especially the placement of emphasis, the cadence, and the rise and fall of the pitch of the voice while speaking.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A thundering; thunder.
  • n. Utterance of tones; mode of enunciation; modulation of the voice in speaking; also, expression of sentiment or emotion by variations of tone: as, his intonation was resonant or harsh.
  • n. The act of intoning or speaking with the singing voice; specifically, the use of musical tones in ecclesiastical delivery: as, the intonation of the litany.
  • n. In music: The process or act of producing tones in general or a particular series of tones, like a scale, especially with the voice.
  • n. In plain-song, the two or more notes leading up to the dominant or reciting-tone of a chant or melody, and usually sung by but one or a few voices. The proper intonation varies with the mode used, and also with the text to be sung.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the act of singing in a monotonous tone
  • n. the production of musical tones (by voice or instrument); especially the exactitude of the pitch relations
  • n. rise and fall of the voice pitch
  • n. singing by a soloist of the opening piece of plainsong

Etymologies

From the verb intone. (Wiktionary)
From the verb intonate. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Anything sing-song falls into this category, such as the calling intonation of 'Come and ge-et it'.

    On speaking music

  • My name is not that strange, but if the intonation is Swedish most people just can not make out the syllables.

    Isaac Asimov, rider

  • The word for Lord is "chop" and the word for pig is "choooo," and the Chinese missionary made a mistake in intonation with the result that a cartoon appeared showing a man bowing down before a pig which had been nailed upon a cross.

    China—Its People and Their Life

  • There is a difference in intonation between a) and b), and in b) there is a lengthening of the on, possibly a different pronunciation of the to (/u/in a) and schwa in b)), and maybe a slight pause between on and to.

    6 posts from February 2008

  • Example e) is valid as speech; its comma indicates the difference in intonation and the pause between preposition and adverb that I mentioned above, and the pronunciation difference (/u/and schwa) may also be heard.

    6 posts from February 2008

  • In Chinese, a word like ‘ma’ can change meaning if your voice rises or lowers in intonation.

    First Impressions of Korea | Heretical Ideas Magazine

  • The alphabet includes diacritical marks that dictate word intonation and vowel pronunciation.

    ASIAN BUSINESS CUSTOMS & MANNERS

  • The intonation was a little wild, but there was so much fire, passion, intelligent structuring and total identification with the deepest spirit of this meaty work that we were transfixed.

    Archive 2005-12-01

  • His voice _is_ heard so long as there is narrative of any sort, whether he is speaking in person or is reported obliquely; his voice is heard, because in either case the language and the intonation are his, the direct expression of his experience.

    The Craft of Fiction

  • 'There is a kind of chant in your voice - a sort of rhythm, followed by a monotonous intonation, which is not at all good.

    Juniper Hall: A Rendezvous of Certain Illustrious Personages during the French Revolution, Including Alexandre D'Arblay and Fanny Burney

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