over·​tone | \ ˈō-vər-ˌtōn How to pronounce overtone (audio) \

Definition of overtone

1a : one of the higher tones produced simultaneously with the fundamental and that with the fundamental comprise a complex musical tone : harmonic sense 1a
2 : the color of the light reflected (as by a paint)
3 : a secondary effect, quality, or meaning : suggestion, connotation

Examples of overtone in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In a 2016 article, Krauze discoursed on populism: The term has different meanings, or at least overtones, in different regions of the world and in different political traditions. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, "Against the Populist Passions: A Visit with Enrique Krauze, Part II," 6 Mar. 2020 The group's online chats often had racist overtones, with comments suggesting antipathy toward Jews and black people. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "FBI arrests man suspected of orchestrating dozens of “swatting” calls," 14 Jan. 2020 The killings had caste overtones but were ostensibly for the crime of defecating outside. The Economist, "World Toilet Day this week is not a joke, but deadly serious," 17 Nov. 2019 Persona 5 Royal, then, will feature updated versions of the dialogue, which will be edited to avoid such troubling overtones. Julie Muncy, Wired, "Sony and Facebook Drop Out of GDC and PAX East Due to Covid-19 Fears," 21 Feb. 2020 But the nostalgic overtones didn't stop Wolfington and Webb from considering a top-40 track. Bianca Rodriguez, Marie Claire, "'To All the Boys 2: P.S. I Still Love You': All the Secrets From the Catchy Soundtrack," 20 Feb. 2020 Others sensed racial overtones when advocates described the white in the flag’s sunrise as the color of unity. John Gurda, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "It may be the People's Flag for much of Milwaukee, but that wasn't good enough for the Common Council," 6 Feb. 2020 With Europe on the brink of war, their second fight carried heavier political overtones than their first meeting. Mark Inabinett | Minabinett@al.com, al, "Alabama 200: See top 10 sports moments in Alabama history," 27 Nov. 2019 How that house came to be at that location is a bit of early Phoenix history with citrus overtones. Donna Reiner, azcentral, "This century-old Craftsman bungalow has a story rooted in citrus," 14 Nov. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'overtone.' 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 overtone

1867, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Time Traveler for overtone

Time Traveler

The first known use of overtone was in 1867

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Last Updated

29 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Overtone.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/overtone. Accessed 7 Apr. 2020.

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More Definitions for overtone


How to pronounce overtone (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of overtone

: an idea or quality that is suggested without being said directly
: a very small amount of something
music : a higher tone that is part of the sound of a musical note


over·​tone | \ ˈō-vər-ˌtōn How to pronounce overtone (audio) \

Medical Definition of overtone

: one of the higher tones produced simultaneously with the fundamental and that with the fundamental comprise a complex musical tone

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More from Merriam-Webster on overtone

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for overtone

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with overtone

Spanish Central: Translation of overtone

Nglish: Translation of overtone for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about overtone

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