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Pierce's10th Grade Honors and 10th Grade IB Prep

Tone Words
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Some of the words that describe tone


Tone is defined as the writer’s or speaker’s attitude toward the subject.

Developing a tone vocabulary:

Tone Vocabulary List

Positive Tone/Attitude Words

Amiable Consoling Friendly Playful

Amused Content Happy Pleasant

Appreciative Dreamy Hopeful Proud

Authoritative Ecstatic Impassioned Relaxed

Benevolent Elated Jovial Reverent

Brave Elevated Joyful Romantic

Calm Encouraging Jubilant Soothing

Cheerful Energetic Lighthearted Surprised

Cheery Enthusiastic Loving Sweet

Compassionate Excited Optimistic Sympathetic

Complimentary Exuberant Passionate Vibrant

Confident Fanciful Peaceful Whimsical

Negative Tone/Attitude Words

Accusing Choleric Furious Quarrelsome

Aggravated Coarse Harsh Shameful

Agitated Cold Haughty Smooth

Angry Condemnatory Hateful Snooty

Apathetic Condescending Hurtful Superficial

Arrogant Contradictory Indignant Surly

Artificial Critical Inflammatory Testy

Audacious Desperate Insulting Threatening

Belligerent Disappointed Irritated Tired

Bitter Disgruntled Manipulative Uninterested

Boring Disgusted Obnoxious Wrathful

Brash Disinterested Outraged

Childish Facetious Passive

Humor-Irony-Sarcasm Tone/Attitude Words

Amused Droll Mock-heroic Sardonic

Bantering Facetious Mocking Satiric

Bitter Flippant Mock-serious Scornful

Caustic Giddy Patronizing Sharp

Comical Humorous Pompous Silly

Condescending Insolent Quizzical Taunting

Contemptuous Ironic Ribald Teasing

Critical Irreverent Ridiculing Whimsical

Cynical Joking Sad Wry

Disdainful Malicious Sarcastic

Sorrow-Fear-Worry Tone/Attitude Words

Aggravated Embarrassed Morose Resigned

Agitated Fearful Mournful Sad

Anxious Foreboding Nervous Serious

Apologetic Gloomy Numb Sober

Apprehensive Grave Ominous Solemn

Concerned Hollow Paranoid Somber

Confused Hopeless Pessimistic Staid

Dejected Horrific Pitiful Upset

Depressed Horror Poignant

Despairing Melancholy Regretful

Disturbed Miserable Remorseful

Neutral Tone/Attitude Words

Admonitory Dramatic Intimae Questioning

Allusive Earnest Judgmental Reflective

Apathetic Expectant Learned Reminiscent

Authoritative Factual Loud Resigned

Baffled Fervent Lyrical Restrained

Callous Formal Matter-of-fact Seductive

Candid Forthright Meditative Sentimental

Ceremonial Frivolous Nostalgic Serious

Clinical Haughty Objective Shocking

Consoling Histrionic Obsequious Sincere

Contemplative Humble Patriotic Unemotional

Conventional Incredulous Persuasive Urgent

Detached Informative Pleading Vexed

Didactic Inquisitive Pretentious Wistful

Disbelieving Instructive Provocative Zealous


Often a change or shift in tone will be signaled by the following:

Key words such as but, yet, nevertheless, however, although

Punctuation such as dashes, periods, colons, semicolons

Stanza and paragraph divisions

Changes in line and stanza or sentence length



There are plenty of others, but this is a good start