Tone in toons
In “Freshly Squeezed” today cartoonist Ed Stein creates an ironic tone with the word “intimate.” Used as an adjective here, intimate means “closely acquainted or associated,” according to Webster’s. An intimate form letter is definitely a contradiction in terms. (Intimate can also be a verb, meaning to suggest or imply.)
Tone is a short word with a long list of meanings. For now, let’s just look at Webster’s definition of the word’s literary meaning: “a manner of speaking or writing that shows a certain attitude on the part of speaker or writer; consisting of choice of words or phrasing, etc.”
George Lichty’s “Grin and Bear It” below is another good example of tone in speaking or writing.
Before you analyze his caption, consider the meanings of two words: Bourgeois (boor ZWAH) is a word borrowed from the French that means materialistic or conventional, and Neanderthal refers to a primitive human being who lived many centuries ago.
Now, judging by the look on Dad’s face, how would you describe the tone of his daughter’s words?
For a fun lesson on tone that is appropriate for sixth grade, go to