View synonyms for tone



[ tohn ]


  1. any sound considered with reference to its quality, pitch, strength, source, etc.:

    shrill tones.

  2. quality or character of sound.
  3. vocal sound; the sound made by vibrating muscular bands in the larynx.
  4. a particular quality, way of sounding, modulation, or intonation of the voice as expressive of some meaning, feeling, spirit, etc.:

    a tone of command.

  5. an accent peculiar to a person, people, locality, etc., or a characteristic mode of sounding words in speech.
  6. stress of voice on a syllable of a word.
  7. Linguistics. a musical pitch or movement in pitch serving to distinguish two words otherwise composed of the same sounds, as in Chinese.
  8. Music.
    1. a musical sound of definite pitch, consisting of several relatively simple constituents called partial tones, the lowest of which is called the fundamental tone and the others harmonics or overtones.
    2. an interval equivalent to two semitones; a whole tone; a whole step.
    3. any of the nine melodies or tunes to which Gregorian plainsong psalms are sung.
  9. a quality of color with reference to the degree of absorption or reflection of light; a tint or shade; value.
  10. that distinctive quality by which colors differ from one another in addition to their differences indicated by chroma, tint, shade; a slight modification of a given color; hue:

    green with a yellowish tone.

  11. Art. the prevailing effect of harmony of color and values.
  12. Physiology.
    1. the normal state of tension or responsiveness of the organs or tissues of the body.
    2. that state of the body or of an organ in which all its functions are performed with healthy vigor.
    3. normal sensitivity to stimulation.
  13. a normal healthy mental condition.
  14. a particular mental state or disposition; spirit, character, or tenor.
  15. a particular style or manner, as of writing or speech; mood:

    the macabre tone of Poe's stories.

    Synonyms: temper, quality, spirit

  16. prevailing character or style, as of manners, morals, or philosophical outlook:

    the liberal tone of the 1960s.

  17. style, distinction, or elegance.

verb (used with object)

, toned, ton·ing.
  1. to sound with a particular tone.
  2. to give the proper tone to (a musical instrument).
  3. to modify the tone or general coloring of.
  4. to give the desired tone to (a painting, drawing, etc.).
  5. Photography. to change the color of (a print), especially by chemical means.
  6. to render as specified in tone or coloring.
  7. to modify the tone or character of.
  8. to give or restore physical or mental tone to.

verb (used without object)

, toned, ton·ing.
  1. to take on a particular tone; assume color or tint.

verb phrase

  1. to harmonize in tone or coloring; blend:

    The painting tones with the room.

    1. to give a higher or stronger tone to.
    2. to gain or cause to gain in tone or strength:

      toning up little-used muscles.

    1. to become or cause to become softened or moderated:

      The newspaper toned down its attack.

    2. Painting. to make (a color) less intense in hue; subdue.



[ tohn ]


  1. (Theobald) Wolfe, 1763–98, Irish nationalist and martyr for independence.



/ təʊn /


  1. Tone(Theobald) Wolfe17631798MIrishPOLITICS: nationalist ( Theobald ) Wolfe. 1763–98, Irish nationalist, who founded (1791) the Society of United Irishmen and led (1798) French military forces to Ireland. He was captured and sentenced to death but committed suicide



/ təʊn /


  1. sound with reference to quality, pitch, or volume
  2. short for tone colour
  3. See note
    another word for note
  4. (in acoustic analysis) a sound resulting from periodic or regular vibrations, composed either of a simple sinusoidal waveform ( pure tone ) or of several such waveforms superimposed upon one main one ( compound tone )
  5. an interval of a major second; whole tone
  6. Also calledGregorian tone any of several plainsong melodies or other chants used in the singing of psalms
  7. linguistics any of the pitch levels or pitch contours at which a syllable may be pronounced, such as high tone, falling tone, etc
  8. the quality or character of a sound

    a nervous tone of voice

  9. general aspect, quality, or style

    I didn't like the tone of his speech

  10. high quality or style

    to lower the tone of a place

  11. the quality of a given colour, as modified by mixture with white or black; shade; tint

    a tone of red

  12. physiol
    1. the normal tension of a muscle at rest
    2. the natural firmness of the tissues and normal functioning of bodily organs in health
  13. the overall effect of the colour values and gradations of light and dark in a picture
  14. photog a colour or shade of colour, including black or grey, of a particular area on a negative or positive that can be distinguished from surrounding lighter or darker areas


  1. introften foll bywith to be of a matching or similar tone (to)

    the curtains tone with the carpet

  2. tr to give a tone to or correct the tone of
  3. photog tr to soften or change the colour of the tones of (a photographic image) by chemical means
  4. tr to give greater firmness or strength to (the body or a part of the body)
  5. See intone
    an archaic word for intone

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Other Words From

  • toneless adjective
  • toneless·ly adverb
  • toneless·ness noun
  • multi·toned adjective
  • non·toned adjective
  • un·toned adjective
  • well-toned adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of tone1

First recorded in 1275–1325; Middle English (noun), from Latin tonus, from Greek tónos “strain, tone, mode,” literally, “a stretching,” akin to teínein “to stretch”

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Word History and Origins

Origin of tone1

C14: from Latin tonus, from Greek tonos tension, tone, from teinein to stretch

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Synonym Study

See sound 1.

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Example Sentences

It’s very difficult to imagine the first installment in a studio comedy based on an original concept, especially a comedy that has the tone of this one, coming out today, at least in theaters.

From Vox

US developer HireVue says its software speeds up the hiring process by 90 percent by having applicants answer identical questions and then scoring them according to language, tone, and facial expressions.

Hamilton had spent decades prior to 1980 sifting through weather station data for hints of the lowest atmospheric tones.

The tone of what I’m told is the Silent Generation really changed in the 60s.

Just as AI systems can be trained to tell the difference between a picture of a dog and one of a cat, they can learn to differentiate between an angry tone of voice or facial expression and a happy one.

Music is a huge part of the tone of Black Dynamite overall—going back to the original 2009 movie on which the series is based.

Although Huckabee's condescending tone - like that of an elementary school history teacher - makes it difficult to take seriously.

“Call me when the plane leaves the ground,” she said, in a tone that implied she knew her husband well.

He has struck a promising tone these last few days with his rhetoric about trying to “see each other.”

Ramos would help set the tone of the day when he greeted the arriving students outside the school.

That which is called nasality is caused by the failure of the tone to reach freely the anterior cavities of the nares.

Drone: the largest tube of a bag-pipe, giving forth a dull heavy tone.

And once more, she found herself desiring to be like Janet--not only in appearance, but in soft manner and tone.

What the ear hears is the fundamental pitch only; the overtones harmonize with the primary or fundamental tone, and enrich it.

This may be done by taking the humming tone and bringing to bear upon it a strong pressure of energy.


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