: relatively insensitive to differences in musical pitch
: having or showing an obtuse insensitivity or lack of perception particularly in matters of public sentiment, opinion, or taste
The White House long ago concluded that she is aloof and politically tone-deafMichael Duffy
At the time, I wondered how such an intelligent man could be so tone-deaf to the harsh realities facing the nation …Peniel E. Joseph
tone deafness noun

Examples of tone-deaf in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Negishi’s death was announced this week, at the age of 100, which means a century of making the world a louder, more tone-deaf place. Rob Sheffield, Rolling Stone, 16 Mar. 2024 But from the pageantry of the tropical getaway, accusations of the trip being tone-deaf coupled with the memory of Tarte’s past faux pas have created a massive discussion online. Ct Jones, Rolling Stone, 8 Mar. 2024 Left-leaning users have called the campaign’s posts tone-deaf in light of the ongoing atrocities in Gaza. Makena Kelly, WIRED, 24 Feb. 2024 Large brands have made famously tone-deaf commercials that left viewers wondering why the decision-makers lacked eyes to see the problem. Gregory Crawford, Forbes, 16 Feb. 2024 To some who identify as huge fans of Swift – presumably the group being courted – the outcry is both tone-deaf and flattering. Andre Mouchard, Orange County Register, 4 Feb. 2024 At the start of this year, even an internet company tellingly had enough of workforce flexibility, releasing a video that made headlines for its mandate’s tone-deaf messaging. Christiaan Hetzner, Fortune, 5 Feb. 2024 The Defense secretary, a retired Army general, has shown himself to be politically tone-deaf. Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times, 15 Jan. 2024 Josh McDaniels must’ve been tone-deaf and inept, judging by the gusto Raiders players have shown since his dismissal. Tom Krasovic, San Diego Union-Tribune, 25 Dec. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'tone-deaf.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1883, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of tone-deaf was in 1883

Dictionary Entries Near tone-deaf

Cite this Entry

“Tone-deaf.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tone-deaf. Accessed 18 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


: not noticing small differences in musical pitch

Medical Definition


: relatively insensitive to differences in musical pitch
tone deafness noun
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!