un·​der·​tone | \ ˈən-dər-ˌtōn \

Definition of undertone

1 : a low or subdued utterance or accompanying sound
2 : a quality (as of emotion) underlying the surface of an utterance or action
3 : 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Medium Skin: Go for an orangey shade such as CoverGirl LipPerfection Lipcolor in Hot ($6.50; at drugstores), which will reflect the yellow undertones in your skin. Woman's Day Staff, Woman's Day, "5 Tricky Beauty Techniques Made Easy," 12 Mar. 2012 Facebook, which has repeatedly stated that the political ad archive is a work in progress, has fought criticism that too many campaign ads slip through, while ads that have no political undertones are incorrectly flagged. Sheera Frenkel, New York Times, "Facebook and Twitter Expand Peek Into Who’s Behind Their Ads," 28 June 2018 Their gray-lavender undertone served as the inspiration for her limited edition five-piece collection, which will be available only in the month of February. Katheryn Erickson, Town & Country, "American Beauties," 31 Jan. 2014 With orange undertones reminiscent of desert clay, copper definitely warms up your space. Alyssa Fiorentino, House Beautiful, "Weigh In: Which Paint Colors Are Totally Overrated?," 20 Aug. 2018 But the ominous undertones will not stop the pair’s super-fans from counting down the days until their nuptials. Megan Stein, Country Living, "When Will 'NCIS: Los Angeles' Air Deeks and Kensi's Wedding?," 11 Nov. 2018 Keep your skin's undertones in mind when picking a shade. Kelsey Stiegman, Seventeen, "20 Things You Should Know Before Coloring Your Hair for the First Time," 8 Nov. 2018 The silver lipstick shade had touches of purple undertones and matched perfectly with the evening's choice of a checkered blazer. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Beyoncé Wore Silver Lipstick," 23 Oct. 2018 Shiha remains unmoved by how her personal decision not to wear a hijab has turned into a national debate with political undertones. Menna Zaki, Fox News, "Movie star's lifestyle reversal sparks a debate in Egypt," 21 Aug. 2018

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

1806, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for undertone

Last Updated

9 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for undertone

The first known use of undertone was in 1806

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More Definitions for undertone



English Language Learners Definition of undertone

: a low or quiet voice
: a quality, meaning, etc., that is present but not clear or obvious
: a color that you can see in small amounts


un·​der·​tone | \ ˈən-dər-ˌtōn \

Kids Definition of undertone

1 : a low or quiet voice They spoke in undertones.
2 : a partly hidden feeling or meaning There was an undertone of anger in the answer.

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More from Merriam-Webster on undertone

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with undertone

Spanish Central: Translation of undertone

Nglish: Translation of undertone for Spanish Speakers

Comments on undertone

What made you want to look up undertone? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a servile follower or underling

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