un·​der·​tone | \ ˈən-dər-ˌtōn How to pronounce undertone (audio) \

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 His dark skin gleamed with the steam rolling down behind him from the kitchen, the undertone as cool as a pearl. Seija Rankin, EW.com, "Get a first look at Lore, the new novel from The Darkest Minds creator Alexandra Bracken," 8 July 2020 Zappone eschewed the more traditional Carrara marble in favor of a stone with warm undertones of yellow and purple. Hadley Keller, House Beautiful, "This Mom Designed and Built Her Own Kitchen—and Won a Design Contest," 27 Mar. 2020 Not as bold as lemon zest and definitely not as acidic as the juice from citrus, lemon thyme offers a delicate lemony compliment to the rich undertones of thyme. Micah A Leal, Southern Living, "The Best Substitute for Thyme," 3 Apr. 2020 In the night, a train’s rumbling is the only sound beyond the undertone of the current. Keith Mccafferty, Field & Stream, "The Company of Stars," 3 Mar. 2020 Understanding the undertone of these colors can guide you to select a paint color that creates a sense of harmony with what is already in the space. Chelsea Evers, Country Living, "16 Best Living Room Paint Colors to Make Your Home Feel More Inviting," 19 Dec. 2019 There’s also the slightest undertone of, uh, marshmallow? Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "I'm in a Deep, Committed Relationship With This Almond Milk," 6 Dec. 2019 To go with the environmentally-conscious undertone of Frozen 2, a big part of the movie’s plot involves the pros and cons of building a dam. Marcus Jones, EW.com, "Does water have memory? And 4 other questions from Frozen 2," 3 Dec. 2019 In Shakespeare, epidemic disease is present for the most part as a steady, low-level undertone, surfacing in his characters’ speeches most vividly in metaphorical expressions of rage and disgust. Stephen Greenblatt, The New Yorker, "What Shakespeare Actually Wrote About the Plague," 7 May 2020

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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Time Traveler for undertone

Time Traveler

The first known use of undertone was in 1806

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Last Updated

12 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Undertone.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/undertone. Accessed 13 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for undertone


How to pronounce undertone (audio)

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 How to pronounce undertone (audio) \

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for undertone

Spanish Central: Translation of undertone

Nglish: Translation of undertone for Spanish Speakers

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