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From the post-Classical Latin monotonus (unvarying in tone) or its etymon the Ancient Greek μονότονος (monotonos, steady”, “unwavering); compare cognate adjectives, namely the French monotone, the German monoton, the Italian monotono, and the Spanish monótono, as well as the slightly earlier English noun monotony and adjective monotonical.



monotone (comparative more monotone, superlative most monotone)

  1. (of speech or a sound) having a single unvaried pitch
    • 1799, John Walker, Elements of Elocution, Cooper and Wilson, page 309:
      It is no very difficult matter to be loud in a high tone of voice; but to be loud and forcible in a low tone, requires great practice and management; this, however, may be facilitated by pronouncing forcibly at firſt in a low monotone; a monotone, though in a low key, and without force, is much more ſonorous and audible than when the voice ſlides up and down at almoſt every word, as it muſt do to be various.
    • 1940, Asiatic Society (Calcutta, Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal, India), Journal of the Asiatic Society, page 95:
      The prominence of the syllables is more monotone than in English, the intonation of the latter having a larger variation of stressed and unstressed syllables.
    • 1998, Roger W. Shuy, Bureaucratic Language in Government and Business, Georgetown University Press, Research on Telephone vs. In-Person Administrative Hearings, page 76:
      In the formal register, such variation is reduced and the talk has a more monotone, business-like quality.
  2. (mathematics) property of a function to be either always decreasing or always increasing
    • The function f(x):=x^3 is monotone while g(x):=x^2 is not.



monotone (plural monotones)

  1. A single unvaried tone of speech or a sound
    When Tima felt like her parents were treating her like a servant, she would speak in monotone and act as though she were a robot.

Derived terms[edit]


monotone (third-person singular simple present monotones, present participle monotoning, simple past and past participle monotoned)

  1. (transitive, intransitive) To speak in a monotone.



monotona +‎ -e



  1. monotonously
  2. in monotone




monotone (masculine and feminine, plural monotones)

  1. monotone
  2. whose speech is monotone
  3. boring due to uniformity or lack of variety; monotonous



monotone f

  1. Feminine plural form of monotono