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noun \ˈtōn\

Simple Definition of tone

  • : the quality of a person's voice

  • : the quality of a sound produced by a musical instrument or singing voice

  • : a quality, feeling, or attitude expressed by the words that someone uses in speaking or writing

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of tone

  1. 1 :  vocal or musical sound of a specific quality <spoke in low tones> <masculine tones>; especially :  musical sound with respect to timbre and manner of expression

  2. 2a :  a sound of definite pitch and vibrationb :  whole step

  3. 3 :  accent or inflection expressive of a mood or emotion

  4. 4 :  the pitch of a word often used to express differences of meaning

  5. 5 :  a particular pitch or change of pitch constituting an element in the intonation of a phrase or sentence <high tone> <low tone> <mid tone> <low-rising tone> <falling tone>

  6. 6 :  style or manner of expression in speaking or writing <seemed wise to adopt a conciliatory tone>

  7. 7a (1) :  color quality or value (2) :  a tint or shade of colorb :  the color that appreciably modifies a hue or white or black <gray walls of greenish tone>

  8. 8 :  the effect in painting of light and shade together with color

  9. 9a :  the state of a living body or of any of its organs or parts in which the functions are healthy and performed with due vigorb :  normal tension or responsiveness to stimuli; specifically :  muscular tonus

  10. 10a :  healthy elasticity :  resiliencyb :  general character, quality, or trend <a city's upbeat tone>c :  frame of mind :  mood

Examples of tone in a sentence

  1. He replied in a friendly tone.

  2. They spoke in hushed tones.

  3. Don't use that rude tone of voice with me.

  4. the low tones of an organ

  5. The speech had religious tones to it.

  6. The author's tone shows her attitude toward the subject.

  7. The professor's condescending tone irritated some students.

  8. a bright, dark, or light tone of blue

  9. the soft tones of the painting

Origin of tone

Middle English, from Anglo-French tun, ton, from Latin tonus tension, tone, from Greek tonos, literally, act of stretching; akin to Greek teinein to stretch — more at thin

First Known Use: 14th century




Simple Definition of tone

  • : to give strength and firmness to (something, such as muscles or skin)

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of tone


  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  intone

  3. 2 :  to give a particular intonation or inflection to

  4. 3a :  to impart tone to :  strengthen <medicine to tone up the system>b :  to soften or reduce in intensity, color, appearance, or sound :  mellow —often used with downc :  to change the normal silver image of (as a photographic print) into a colored image

  5. intransitive verb
  6. 1 :  to assume a pleasing color quality or tint

  7. 2 :  to blend or harmonize in color


First Known Use of tone



biographical name \ˈtōn\

Definition of Tone

  1. (Theobald) Wolfe 1763–1798 Irish revolutionary

TONE Defined for Kids



noun \ˈtōn\

Definition of tone for Students

  1. 1 :  an individual way of speaking or writing especially when used to express an emotion <He replied in a friendly tone.>

  2. 2 :  common character or quality <There was a polite tone to the discussions.>

  3. 3 :  quality of spoken or musical sound

  4. 4 :  a sound on one pitch

  5. 5 :  a shade of color <The room is decorated in soft tones.>

  6. 6 :  a color that changes another <It's gray with a blue tone.>

  7. 7 :  a healthy state of the body or any of its parts <He has good muscle tone.>




Definition of tone for Students


  1. :  to give a healthy state to :  strengthen <She exercised to tone up her muscles.>

tone down
  1. :  to soften or blend in color, appearance, or sound <Can you tone down the music?>

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up tone? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to defraud especially of money

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