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[haf-tohn, hahf-] /ˈhæfˌtoʊn, ˈhɑf-/
Also called middle-tone. (in painting, drawing, graphics, photography, etc.) a value intermediate between light and dark.
  1. a process in which gradation of tone in an image is conveyed by first photographing the image through a screen to break up the continuous tones of the image into minute, closely spaced dots, then using the print obtained to produce a metal plate by photoengraving, and finally using the plate to reproduce the original image by letterpress or offset printing.
  2. the metal plate used in such a process.
  3. the print obtained in such a process.
    Compare line cut.
pertaining to, using, used in, or produced by the halftone process:
a halftone screen; a halftone print.
Origin of halftone
First recorded in 1645-55; half + tone Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for halftone
Historical Examples
  • The fine checks in the pileus are clearly seen in the halftone.

  • Which is how I happen to spot this folder with the halftone cut on it.

    Torchy, Private Sec. Sewell Ford
  • In both cases, negatives are made of both the halftone and fine copies.

  • Credit for each photograph is given with the halftone as it appears.

    The Bontoc Igorot Albert Ernest Jenks
  • Nine separate men handle each engraving in the halftone department.

  • Combination plates are made by combining the halftone and line negatives together and making one complete print on the metal.

  • Its use is very extensive in the making of tint blocks or color work, used either in connection with line or halftone key plates.

  • Well, he looked like a halftone print of the Pilgrim Fathers––the kind that they hang on the walls in the district schools.

    Once to Every Man Larry Evans
  • She also took a halftone snapshot of you out at the Coldtown dam, cut from a newspaper, published the Sunday after your accident.

    Red Pepper's Patients

    Grace S. Richmond
  • The stems run deep into the earth and are attached to a sclerotium, which will be seen in the halftone.

British Dictionary definitions for halftone


  1. a process used to reproduce an illustration by photographing it through a fine screen to break it up into dots
  2. the etched plate thus obtained
  3. the print obtained from such a plate
(art) a tonal value midway between highlight and dark shading
(music, US & Canadian) another word for semitone
relating to, used in, or made by halftone
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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