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AP English Tone Words
Words Describing Tone and their Meaning
66
English
01/24/2007

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Term
acerbic
Definition
sour, harsh, or severe
Term
ambivalent
Definition
uncertainty or fluctuation, esp. when caused by inability to make a choice or by a simultaneous desire to say or do two opposite or conflicting things.
Term
audacious
Definition
bold or daring; recklessly brave
Term
bantering
Definition
To speak to in a playful or teasing way.
Term
bellicose
Definition
inclined or eager to fight; aggressively hostile; belligerent
Term
Biting
Definition
sharp, cutting, stinging
Term
brash
Definition
impudent; tactless, hasty; rash
Term
Cajoling
Definition
to persuade by flattery or promises; wheedle; coax.
Term
Candid
Definition
frank; outspoken; open and sincere
Term
Clinical
Definition
extremely objective and realistic; dispassionately analytic; unemotionally critical
Term
Complacent
Definition
pleased, esp. with oneself or one's merits, advantages, situation, etc., often without awareness of some potential danger or defect; self-satisfied
Term
Contemptuous
Definition
showing or expressing contempt or disdain; scornful
Term
Contentious
Definition
tending to argument or strife; quarrelsome
Term
Cynical
Definition
bitterly or sneeringly distrustful, contemptuous, or pessimistic
Term
Detached
Definition
impartial or objective; disinterested; unbiased; not involved or concerned; aloof
Term
Diffident
Definition
lacking confidence in one's own ability, worth, or fitness; timid; shy.
2. restrained or reserved in manner, conduct
Term
Effusive
Definition
unduly demonstrative; lacking reserve: effusive greetings; pouring out; overflowing.
Term
hectoring
Definition
To intimidate or dominate in a blustering way
Term
Haughty
Definition
disdainfully proud; snobbish; scornfully arrogant
Term
Harsh
Definition
grim or unpleasantly severe; stern; cruel; austere
Term
Histrionic
Definition
deliberately affected or self-consciously emotional; overly dramatic
Term
Impartial
Definition
not partial or biased; fair; just
Term
Facetious
Definition
playfully humorous
Term
Flippant
Definition
frivolously disrespectful, shallow, or lacking in seriousness
Term
Incensed
Definition
to inflame with wrath; make angry; enrage
Term
Incisive
Definition
penetrating; cutting; biting; trenchant; remarkably clear and direct; sharp; keen
Term
Inflammatory
Definition
ending to arouse anger, hostility, passion
Term
Insolent
Definition
boldly rude or disrespectful
Term
Intimate
Definition
characterized by or involving warm friendship or a personally close or familiar association or feeling
Term
Introspective
Definition
to look into or examine one's own mind, feelings
Term
Ironic
Definition
Poignantly contrary to what was expected or intended
Term
Irreverent
Definition
Lacking or exhibiting a lack of reverence; disrespectful.Critical of what is generally accepted or respected; satirical
Term
Jingoistic
Definition
Extreme nationalism characterized especially by a belligerent foreign policy
Term
Laudatory
Definition
Expressing or conferring praise
Term
Lugubrious
Definition
mournful, dismal, or gloomy, esp. in an affected, exaggerated, or unrelieved manner
Term
Macabre
Definition
suggesting the horror of death and decay; gruesome
Term
Maudlin
Definition
tearfully or weakly emotional; foolishly sentimental
Term
Mock-heroic
Definition
A satirical imitation or burlesque of the heroic manner or style. Mocking the heroic
Term
Mock-serious
Definition
pretended serious. Mocking the serious.
Term
Moralistic
Definition
narrowly and conventionally mora
Term
morbid
Definition
unwholesomely gloomy, sensitive, extreme,and concerned usually with death
Term
Naive
Definition
having or showing a lack of experience, judgment, or information; credulous
Term
Nostalgic
Definition
A bittersweet longing for things, persons, or situations of the past
Term
patronizing
Definition
offensively condescending manner
Term
Pedantic
Definition
Characterized by a narrow, often ostentatious concern for book learning and formal rules
Term
petulant
Definition
moved to or showing sudden, impatient irritation, esp. over some trifling annoyance
Term
Poignant
Definition
keen or strong in mental appeal
Term
Pretentious
Definition
ssumption of dignity or importance; making an exaggerated outward show
Term
Reflective
Definition
Characterized by or given to meditation or contemplation; thoughtful
Term
Remorseful
Definition
feeling or expressing pain or sorrow for sins or offenses
Term
Sardonic
Definition
bitter or scornful derision; mocking; cynical; sneering
Term
Satiric
Definition
exposing human folly to ridicule
Term
Scathing
Definition
to attack with severe criticis
Term
Simpering
Definition
To smile in a silly, self-conscious, often coy manner
Term
spiteful
Definition
full of spite or malice; showing spite; malicious; malevolent; venomous
Term
Strident
Definition
having a shrill, irritating quality or character
Term
Subservient
Definition
servile; excessively submissive; obsequious
Term
Vexed
Definition
irritated; annoyed
Term
Vituperative
Definition
harshly abusive criticism
Term
Whimsical
Definition
erratic; unpredictable; given to whimsy or fanciful notions
Term
Worshipful
Definition
expressive of worship; reverent or adoring
Term
Wry
Definition
Dryly humorous, often with a touch of irony
Term
Zealous
Definition
marked by active interest and enthusiasm
Term
Compassionate
Definition
Feeling or showing compassion; sympathetic
Term
contentious
Definition
tending to argument or strife; quarrelsome
Term
elegiac
Definition
expressing sorrow or lamentation