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

Oak comes in at the end of the nose, contrasting the wood and floral undertones. Emily Price, Fortune, "Macallan's Latest Limited Edition Whisky Is Pleasantly Oaky and Surprisingly Affordable," 11 July 2018 Of course, the political undertones were lost on me. Thomas Swick, Longreads, "Letters from Trenton," 5 July 2018 The racial undertones in 1968’s Night of the Living Dead become overt by the depressing ending, and the bleak satire of American values in the sequel, 1978’s Dawn of the Dead, are even more obvious. Tasha Robinson, The Verge, "10 subversive, dark American futures to stream on July 4th," 4 July 2018 It’s super funny comedy and has none of the political undertones that have become mainstays in projects like Get Out and Black Panther. refinery29.com, "SuperFly Is A Nostalgic Reintroduction To Urban Fiction," 14 June 2018 JECCA Makeup can be used by anyone, but Blackler said its Correct and Conceal Palette, which retails for $24, was specifically formulated by chemists to banish the blue-green undertones that result from facial hair shadows. NBC News, "Not your mama's makeup: New cosmetics target consumers across gender spectrum," 11 May 2018 Lagering, the process of fermenting slowly at cool temperatures, keeps the beers dry and free of the fruity undertones of malty ales such as ambers and Belgians. William Bostwick, WSJ, "This Summer’s Must-Have Beers for the Poolside Cooler," 16 May 2018 There has been such a sort of undertone of racist policies that I wasn't shocked at all. Eugene Scott, Washington Post, "Trump’s proposal to execute drug dealers has some fearing people of color will be harmed most," 21 Mar. 2018 The solid foundation looks almost like a Beautyblender without the middle man, and like its compatriots, the range separates shades by undertones, which means the colors are more likely to be an exact match for your skin tone. Leah Prinzivalli, Allure, "Lush Is Launching 40 Shades of Foundation — But There's a Catch," 26 June 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

2 Nov 2018

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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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).


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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