- 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.
- an interval equivalent to two semitones; a whole tone; a whole step.
- any of the nine melodies or tunes to which Gregorian plainsong psalms are sung.
- the normal state of tension or responsiveness of the organs or tissues of the body.
- that state of the body or of an organ in which all its functions are performed with healthy vigor.
- normal sensitivity to stimulation.
verb (used with object), toned, ton·ing.
verb (used without object), toned, ton·ing.
- to become or cause to become softened or moderated: The newspaper toned down its attack.
- Painting.to make (a color) less intense in hue; subdue.
- to give a higher or stronger tone to.
- to gain or cause to gain in tone or strength: toning up little-used muscles.
- tone arm,
- tone cluster,
- tone color,
- tone colour,
- tone control
Origin of tone
- the normal tension of a muscle at rest
- the natural firmness of the tissues and normal functioning of bodily organs in health
Word Origin for tone
mid-14c., from Old French ton (13c.), from Latin tonus "a sound, tone, accent," literally "stretching" (in Medieval Latin, a term peculiar to music), from Greek tonos "vocal pitch, raising of voice, accent, key in music," originally "a stretching, taut string," related to teinein "to stretch" (see tenet). Sense of "manner of speaking" is from c.1600. First reference to firmness of body is from 1660s.
"to impart tone to," 1811, from tone (n.). Related: Toned; toning.
Make less vivid, harsh, or violent; moderate. For example, That's a little too much rouge; I'd tone it down a bit, or Do you think I should tone down this letter of complaint? This idiom uses tone in the sense of “adjust the tone or quality of something,” as does the antonym, tone up, meaning “brighten or strengthen.” For example, These curtains will tone up the whole room, or This exercise is said to tone up the triceps. [Mid-1800s]