Definition of intone in English:



  • Say or recite with little rise and fall of the pitch of the voice.

    ‘he intoned a short Latin prayer’
    [with direct speech] ‘‘All rise,’ intoned the usher’
    • ‘I try to read as deadpan as possible, like an academic intoning a hallowed text.’
    • ‘Whereas there were about 100 people in the mosque, as many as it could fit, rows and rows of barefoot men listening to a pre-recorded voice intone prayers in Arabic.’
    • ‘He heard her voice intoning something from inside.’
    • ‘But the announcer intoned visitors' names in a voice so soft, so dipped, that those men were reduced to whispered asides.’
    • ‘His poems chant the place-names of his own corner of Monaghan as if intoning sacred words.’
    • ‘Thumbing a button, she raised the disc to her head and began to speak, intoning the routine blither in a stiflingly mind-numbing voice.’
    • ‘Winning is like ‘a drug’, intoned the German flier.’
    • ‘This led to some confusion about whether or not the men of the choir would intone the chant again.’
    • ‘Another child in similar garb appeared behind her striking a different pose before intoning his own little chant.’
    • ‘When they start singing, the bishop intones a Gregorian style chant that sounds both orthodox and Arab and the choir provides a deep rhythmic descant that is unmistakably African.’
    • ‘With each retelling, he draws the silences out a little further and intones each word more forcefully.’
    • ‘His voice grows richly guttural as he intones each angel's name.’
    • ‘Perhaps it would be like a person's usual voice being taken over by a telling voice, sitting round a campfire intoning long poems thousands of years ago.’
    • ‘It's been intoned mindlessly so many times since that no one ever stops to consider the utter ignorance of the statement.’
    • ‘The movement opens with a distant choir intoning the Te Deum chant against the ambient sounds of the night.’
    • ‘There are, furthermore, ‘no excuses’, it is intoned, for the fact that he ran when armed plainclothed police officers shouted at him.’
    • ‘He collects his coins, intones a blessing and, his voice rising and his eyes large and wide, he completes his tale, in which the baby speaks and saves the hermit, who falls in love with the young woman.’
    • ‘What they will do is read out a death sentence, intone a chant, then set upon the hostage from all sides.’
    • ‘But never should the memory of his death be intoned as ammunition on the political battlefield.’
    • ‘The opening music, a moaning sax and male voice intoning a sound that resembles the word mamma, sets a tone that would make the spectator think otherwise.’
    chant, intonate, sing, recite
    View synonyms


Late 15th century (originally as entone): from Old French entoner or medieval Latin intonare, from in- into + Latin tonus tone.