un·​der·​tone ˈən-dər-ˌtōn How to pronounce undertone (audio)
: a low or subdued utterance or accompanying sound
: a quality (as of emotion) underlying the surface of an utterance or action
: a subdued color
specifically : a color seen through and modifying another color

Examples of undertone in a Sentence

She commented in an undertone that the music was really not very good. The play is a comedy with dark undertones. The fabric is a rich brown color with undertones of red.
Recent Examples on the Web The fragrance, which is infused with essential oils, is crafted with notes of crisp air, fresh laundry, and sweetened floral undertones. Emily Weaver, Peoplemag, 8 Apr. 2024 But, unsurprisingly, the nation’s most popular game of chance has a sinister undertone as major lotteries capitalize on people’s hopes and dangle the ever-elusive carrot of a jackpot over financially vulnerable Americans. Chloe Berger, Fortune, 4 Apr. 2024 Bring in creams and whites for balance, sticking to colors that have slight gray-green undertones for a cohesive look. Jessica Bennett, Better Homes & Gardens, 28 Mar. 2024 Several scenes have ominous undertones, and there’s fighting. Common Sense Media, Washington Post, 15 Mar. 2024 Thanks to gray-green undertones, instead of cool blue ones, there's a warmth to it. Katherine Owen, Southern Living, 22 Feb. 2024 Food-safe dyes adhere to it easily, and are in fact amplified by the icing’s bright white undertones from the powdered sugar. Zoey Poll Katja Mayer, New York Times, 15 Feb. 2024 For me, Sayulita has always carried romantic undertones of faraway places and fleeting moments. Meagan Drillinger, Travel + Leisure, 3 Feb. 2024 Look for shades with a warm tint and gray or brown undertones, which help tone down the brightness and offer a more refined effect. Jessica Bennett, Better Homes & Gardens, 20 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'undertone.' 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

1806, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of undertone was in 1806

Dictionary Entries Near undertone

Cite this Entry

“Undertone.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/undertone. Accessed 22 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


un·​der·​tone ˈən-dər-ˌtōn How to pronounce undertone (audio)
: a low or quiet tone
: a faint color as seen through and changing another color

More from Merriam-Webster on undertone

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