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[ey-tohn-l] /eɪˈtoʊn l/
adjective, Music.
of, relating to, or marked by atonality.
Origin of atonal
1920-25; a-6 + tonal
Related forms
atonalistic, adjective
atonally, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for atonal
  • He loved listening to atonal jazz, and though it drove her crazy, she now listens to little else.
  • The music, telegraphing dire things to come, is an atonal teaser.
  • Most people don't want atonal, vocal or challenging music on the radio.
  • Even better, sing two notes a half-octave apart and listen for their echoing atonal mingling.
British Dictionary definitions for atonal


/eɪˈtəʊnəl; æ-/
(music) having no established key Compare tonal (sense 2)
Derived Forms
atonalism, noun
atonally, adverb
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for atonal

1922, from a- "not" (see a- (2)) + tonal.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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