Tone Words

Tone is defined as the writer's or speaker's attitude toward the subject and the audience. Understanding tone in prose and poetry can be challenging because the reader doesn't have voice inflection to obscure or to carry meaning. Thus, an appreciation of word choice, details, imagery, and language all contribute to the understanding of tone. To misinterpret tone is to misinterpret meaning.

A list of tone words is one practical method of providing a basic "tone vocabulary." An enriched vocabulary enables students to use more specific and subtle descriptions of an attitude they discover in a text. Here is a short list of simple but helpful "tone words":

Angry Sad Sentimental Afraid
Sharp Cold Fanciful Detached
Upset Urgent Complimentary Contemptuous
Silly Joking Condescending Happy
Boring Poignant Sympathetic Confused
Apologetic Hollow Childish Humorous
Joyful Peaceful Horrific Allusive
Mocking Sarcastic Sweet Objective
Nostalgic Vexed Vibrant Zealous
Tired Frivolous Irrelevant Bitter
Audacious Benevolent Dreamy Shocking
Seductive Restrained Somber Candid
Proud Giddy Pitiful Dramatic
Provocative Didactic Lugubrious Sentimental