What is the Definition of Tone?

Learn about the definition of tone and its various aspects in writing, including the main subject of a text, the speaker’s attitude, feelings associated with words, and literal meanings.


Tone is a crucial component of writing that sets the mood, atmosphere, and emotion of a piece of text. It plays a significant role in how the audience perceives the message being conveyed. This article will explore the different definitions of tone and its importance in communication.

Main Subject or Issues that a Text Presents

The tone of a text refers to the main subject or issues that the author is presenting. It reveals the author’s perspective, beliefs, and intentions towards the topic at hand. For example, a text that discusses environmental issues may have a serious and urgent tone, emphasizing the importance of taking action to protect the planet.

The Speaker’s Attitude Toward the Topic or a Character

Tone also reflects the speaker’s attitude towards the topic or a character in a text. It can be positive, negative, neutral, sarcastic, humorous, or any other emotion that the author wants to convey. For instance, a speaker’s tone towards a villainous character may be disdainful, while their tone towards a heroic character may be admiring.

A Feeling or Idea Associated with a Word in a Text

In literature, tone can also refer to the feeling or idea associated with a word or phrase in a text. Different words can evoke different emotions in the reader, depending on their tone. For example, the word ‘love’ can have a romantic, affectionate tone, while the word ‘hate’ can have a hostile, negative tone.

The Literal Meaning or Dictionary Definition of a Word

While tone is often associated with emotions and attitudes, it can also refer to the literal meaning or dictionary definition of a word. This definition of tone is more objective and straightforward, focusing on the actual meaning of the word rather than its emotional connotations.


In conclusion, tone is a multifaceted concept that encompasses various aspects of language and communication. Understanding the different definitions of tone can help writers convey their message effectively and engage with their audience on a deeper level.

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