dial tone


Definition of dial tone

: a tone emitted by a telephone as a signal that the system is ready for dialing

Examples of dial tone in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Streep blissing out to a dial tone, flirting awkwardly with Chris Cooper, brushing her teeth while stoned, smiling at her toes. Chris Hewitt, Star Tribune, "7 of Meryl Streep's most memorable performances in roles big and small," 8 Dec. 2020 But, after the sound of a dial tone, the pair went silent, and Negandhi’s studio crew again took over. Ramon Antonio Vargas | Staff Writer, NOLA.com, "What happened at Tulane? A power outage, jolted TV broadcast and an implosion vs. Navy," 19 Sep. 2020 The din of city traffic is about 85 decibels; the hum of a dial tone, 80 decibels. Jonas Shaffer, baltimoresun.com, "‘Ghost games,’ hot hands and canned noise: Imagining a Ravens season without fans," 9 Sep. 2020 Even landlines weren’t exempt: The dial tone on my grandparents’ phone was temporarily replaced with the same PSA. Shraddha Chakradhar, STAT, "Covid-19 hasn’t yet hit India in a widespread way. But I saw more warnings there than I did in the U.S.," 27 Mar. 2020 That allows the phone to start drawing power, giving the user a dial tone—the signal that the phone is ready to be used. Kevin Dupzyk, Popular Mechanics, "Things Come Apart: A Pay Phone," 27 Nov. 2015 This principle continued as time advanced, technology changed, and Internet access became the dial tone of the digital age. Verne Kopytoff, Fortune, "Democratic FCC Commissioners Railed Against Net Neutrality Repeal. Read Their Statements," 14 Dec. 2017 In some cases, the sound of a dial tone may constitute service under the tariff test and therefore not even trigger a public comment and review. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, "FCC’s latest gift to telcos could leave Americans with worse Internet access," 14 Nov. 2017 This is a man who will debate with dial tones, or give 10 minutes to one of those automated airplane updates that’s announcing a flight delay. Greg Bishop, SI.com, "Everything Changes, But Don King Will Always Be Don King," 3 Nov. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dial tone.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of dial tone

1923, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for dial tone

Time Traveler

The first known use of dial tone was in 1923

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Statistics for dial tone

Last Updated

14 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Dial tone.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dial%20tone. Accessed 24 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for dial tone

dial tone


English Language Learners Definition of dial tone

US : the sound that comes from a telephone when it is ready for a call to be made

More from Merriam-Webster on dial tone

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about dial tone

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