"You canker blossom!" 3 Shakespearean Insults


[in-toh-ney-shuh n, -tuh-] /ˌɪn toʊˈneɪ ʃən, -tə-/
the pattern or melody of pitch changes in connected speech, especially the pitch pattern of a sentence, which distinguishes kinds of sentences or speakers of different language cultures.
the act or manner of intonating.
the manner of producing musical tones, specifically the relation in pitch of tones to their key or harmony.
something that is intoned or chanted.
the opening phrase in a Gregorian chant, usually sung by one or two voices.
Origin of intonation
1610-20; < Medieval Latin intonātiōn- (stem of intonātiō). See intonate, -ion
Related forms
intonational, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for intonation
  • Read aloud with proper phrasing, inflection, and intonation.
  • The speaker's voice was agreeably deep, with a mystifying rough intonation at the edge.
  • And written words will never contain the vast subtleties of rhythm and intonation which are essential to any language.
  • He found, for example, that the listener's head and body movements tracked the intonation patters of the speaker's language.
  • Elsewhere, one could not help noting some roughness of technique and some faults of intonation.
  • He's none too impressed by some of the in-flight intonation he heard, either.
  • Her intonation is reliable and her musicality imbued with youthful freshness.
  • It could spot commonly used words as features of a particular conversation, or keep track of relevant changes in intonation.
  • So does her sense of pitch, heavily colored by blues intonation.
  • His phrasing and sense of harmony were rooted in be-bop, while his unconventional, highly personal intonation presaged free jazz.
British Dictionary definitions for intonation


the sound pattern of phrases and sentences produced by pitch variation in the voice
the act or manner of intoning
an intoned, chanted, or monotonous utterance; incantation
(music) the opening of a piece of plainsong, sung by a soloist
  1. the correct or accurate pitching of intervals
  2. the capacity to play or sing in tune See also just intonation
Derived Forms
intonational, adjective
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 intonation

1610s, "opening phrase of a melody," from French intonation, from Medieval Latin intonationem (nominative intonatio), from past participle stem of intonare (see intone). Meaning "modulation of the voice in speaking" is from 1791.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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