tone

noun
\ ˈtōn \

Definition of tone 

(Entry 1 of 3)

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
2a : a sound of definite pitch and vibration
3 : accent or inflection expressive of a mood or emotion
4 : style or manner of expression in speaking or writing seemed wise to adopt a conciliatory tone
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 : the pitch of a word often used to express differences of meaning
7a(1) : color quality or value
(2) : a tint or shade of color
b : the color that appreciably modifies a hue or white or black gray walls of greenish tone
8 : the effect in painting of light and shade together with color
9a : normal tension or responsiveness to stimuli specifically : the state of partial contraction of skeletal muscle at rest : muscular tonus
b : strength, firmness, or tautness of a part of the body (such as the muscles or skin) exercising to improve muscle tone the shape and tone of the arms
c : the state of a living body or of any of its organs or parts in which the functions are healthy and performed with due vigor
10a : general character, quality, or trend a city's upbeat tone
b : frame of mind : mood
c : healthy elasticity : resiliency

tone

verb
toned; toning

Definition of tone (Entry 2 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to soften or reduce in intensity, color, appearance, or sound : mellow often used with down tone down the bright colorsThe candidate toned down his harsh rhetoric.
2 : to impart tone to : strengthen medicine to tone up the system especially : to increase the firmness, strength, or tautness of (a part of the body) She lifted weights to tone her arms.
3 : to change the normal silver image of (something, such as a photographic print) into a colored image
4 : to give a particular intonation or inflection to
5 : intone

intransitive verb

1 : to assume a pleasing color quality or tint
2 : to blend or harmonize in color

Tone

biographical name
\ ˈtōn \

Definition of Tone (Entry 3 of 3)

(Theobald) Wolfe 1763–1798 Irish revolutionary

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Examples of tone in a Sentence

Noun

He replied in a friendly tone. They spoke in hushed tones. Don't use that rude tone of voice with me. the low tones of an organ The speech had religious tones to it. The author's tone shows her attitude toward the subject. The professor's condescending tone irritated some students. a bright, dark, or light tone of blue the soft tones of the painting
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The Fed’s tone has moderated recently, and Goldman expects policy makers to adjust their approach should data show signs of economic weakness. Daniel Kruger, WSJ, "Goldman Sachs Lowers Forecasts for Yields, Fed," 9 Jan. 2019 Due in no small part to Bowie’s pithy one-liners and devilish smirks, the society’s cheeky tone is palpable. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "Watch a 17-Year-Old David Bowie Give a Rare Interview on Long Hair and Gender," 8 Jan. 2019 But when the topic turned to the recruiting benefits that come with playing in the Bay Area, the tone shifted subtly. Jon Wilner Pac-12 Hotline, The Seattle Times, "The Pac-12 is at risk of losing its recruiting foothold on the West Coast, and Alabama smells blood," 7 Jan. 2019 Known for taking on the big banks, Warren, 69, became President Obama’s appointee to oversee the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (which Trump has dismantled), and has an avowedly power-to-the-people tone to her work. Celeste Katz, Glamour, "Who’s In and Who’s Out of the 2020 Presidential Race—So Far," 3 Jan. 2019 Duchess Kate has a habit of wearing red and pinky tones to this lunch. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Kate Middleton Just Arrived at Queen Elizabeth's Christmas Lunch Wearing a Festive Pink Look," 19 Dec. 2018 The result is a vibrant space filled with warm, golden tones. Ottavia Zappala, azcentral, "Gold Canyon couple turns enormous great room into a cozy haven," 12 July 2018 The color evokes vitality and buoyancy; the marine invertebrate get its vibrant tone from the tiny algae living on its surface. Hannah Morrill, ELLE Decor, "Pantone Just Released Their Color of the Year for 2019," 5 Dec. 2018 My doctor also went over potential complications with me, including infection, blood clots, and scarring, which can vary depending on skin tone. Allison Berres, Good Housekeeping, "Breast-Reduction Surgery Made Me Feel More Sensual, Youthful, and Confident," 9 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Most freckles tend to be cool-toned, which is something to keep in mind when choosing a lip color. Talia Abbas, SELF, "How to Apply Makeup When You Have Freckles, According to Makeup Artists," 3 Dec. 2018 Scenes involving dismemberment have also been toned down, and gone are any explicit references to drugs (though some of the edits are definitely a bit tongue in cheek). Tracy Brown, The Seattle Times, "How ‘Once Upon a Deadpool’ is different from ‘Deadpool 2,’ besides PG-13 rating," 12 Dec. 2018 The Communist government toned down its anti-business rhetoric, which has helped encourage small winemaking businesses, while the new, wealthier middle class has emerged as an eager market. Mark Ellwood, Condé Nast Traveler, "Why China Should Be Your Next Wine Destination," 11 Sep. 2018 The desktop interface is styled a lot closer to the legacy application, and the use of animations and gradients has been somewhat toned down. Peter Bright, Ars Technica, "Microsoft is finally going to make the Skype UI good for the things people use," 4 Sep. 2018 He's toned down his use of profanity while broadcasting to a fanbase that largely is below legal drinking age. Ryan Smith, Chicago Reader, "News / Music Gamer Ninja on playing Fortnite with Drake: 'That was absolutely incredible'," 11 Apr. 2018 The hairstyles are more toned down, there is still some flair. Ni'kesia Pannell, Allure, "New Orleans Hairstylists Dish on How Mardi Gras Hair Trends Have Changed Over the Years," 14 Feb. 2018 Candace is able to tackle all of her toning moves with three sets of dumbbells: 3-pound ones, 5-pound ones and 8-pounders. Candace Braun Davison, House Beautiful, "Candace Cameron Bure's Must-Haves For Working Out At Home," 14 Aug. 2018 Rough, bone-dry limbs are no match for this mixture of fresh ginger, coconut, and grapefruit, which gently exfoliate away dead skin cells while toning and moisturizing for an unseasonably luminous finish. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "Why a Hot Ginger Bath Is the Perfect Detox Ritual for Winter," 26 Nov. 2018

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

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1674, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 5

History and Etymology for tone

Noun

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

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Learn More about tone

Dictionary Entries near tone

tonca bean

tondino

tondo

tone

Tone

tone accent

tonearm

Statistics for tone

Last Updated

14 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for tone

The first known use of tone was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for tone

tone

noun

English Language Learners Definition of tone

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: 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

tone

verb

English Language Learners Definition of tone (Entry 2 of 2)

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

tone

noun
\ ˈtōn \

Kids Definition of tone

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : an individual way of speaking or writing especially when used to express an emotion He replied in a friendly tone.
2 : common character or quality There was a polite tone to the discussions.
3 : quality of spoken or musical sound
4 : a sound on one pitch
5 : a shade of color The room is decorated in soft tones.
6 : a color that changes another It's gray with a blue tone.
7 : a healthy state of the body or any of its parts He has good muscle tone.

tone

verb
toned; toning

Kids Definition of tone (Entry 2 of 2)

: to give a healthy state to : strengthen She exercised to tone up her muscles.
tone down
: to soften or blend in color, appearance, or sound Can you tone down the music?

tone

noun
\ ˈtōn \

Medical Definition of tone 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a sound of definite pitch and vibration
2a : the state of a living body or of any of its organs or parts in which the functions are healthy and performed with due vigor
b : normal tension or responsiveness to stimuli specifically : tonus sense 2
toned; toning

Medical Definition of tone (Entry 2 of 2)

: to impart tone to tone the muscles

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More from Merriam-Webster on tone

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with tone

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for tone

Spanish Central: Translation of tone

Nglish: Translation of tone for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tone for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about tone

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