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

The return of UConn to the Big East is a sports story but there are plenty of political undertones. Russell Blair, courant.com, "Capitol Week in Review: Rest areas back open, UConn back in the Big East," 28 June 2019 Most of the dramatic tension was built in the orchestra, conducted by Jaap van Zweden, using repeated melodic cells and slashing percussion that created an undertone of darkness and dread. Heidi Waleson, WSJ, "‘prisoner of the state’ Review: Stripping Away the Story," 12 June 2019 Anticipation was obvious in people’s faces, and the talk became a sort of nervous undertone. Charles Bethea, The New Yorker, "East Eighty-eighth Street and East End Avenue," 25 May 2018 The cultural undertones are given an additional element of authenticity with the inclusion of Hindi and Punjabi dialogue. Caroline Tew, EW.com, "EW talks YA: One of our favorite teen tales of the year takes July's top spot," 2 Aug. 2019 Just as old-school foundations relied on a base meant to mirror the undertones found in a pale complexion, many lipstick shades are created using the same logic. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, "Lip Service: How One Vogue Writer Found Her Perfect Nude Lip," 29 July 2019 Custom open shelving and reclaimed wood beams echo the wood undertones and add additional texture to the kitchen. Hadley Keller, House Beautiful, "How The Duo Behind "Chris Loves Julia" Made a Super Luxe Looking Kitchen with IKEA Cabinets and a $99 Rug," 19 July 2019 Otherwise, just use a color that matches your skin tone without the undertones. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "A Celebrity Beauty Expert Offers the Best Tips On How to Hide Your Biggest Hickeys," 7 Mar. 2019 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

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

7 Sep 2019

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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 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.

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).


to make a temporary encampment

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