View synonyms for undertone


[ uhn-der-tohn ]


  1. a low or subdued tone:

    to speak in undertones.

  2. an unobtrusive or background sound:

    an undertone of static from the receiver.

  3. an underlying quality or element; undercurrent:

    There was an undertone of regret in his refusal.

  4. a subdued color; a color modified by an underlying color.


/ ˈʌndəˌtəʊn /


  1. a quiet or hushed tone of voice
  2. an underlying tone or suggestion in words or actions

    his offer has undertones of dishonesty

  3. a pale or subdued colour

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Word History and Origins

Origin of undertone1

First recorded in 1800–10; under- + tone

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Example Sentences

Nancy Drew gave way to Hitchcockian psychological thriller with undertones of Crime and Punishment.

From Time

He deftly swerved around his opposition and its racial undertones to guide a country through some gnarly moments of racial reckoning.

From Time

Since then I have been able to think with out the dark undertone in mind of nothing matters.

From Vox

It’s an argument with classist and racial undertones, and also lacks supporting evidence.

From Quartz

Like Buckhead, many of the movements have racial undertones.

Smith speaks with perfect articulation and a vacuous undertone laces her words.

David E. Kelley's The Crazy Ones got some huge support from Tassler "It has a great emotional undertone to the piece," she said.

I heard then a sigh next to me that had an undertone not unlike a snarl.

The undertone riffs off the “un-American” implications of the 2008 campaign directed at then-Sen.

“Reduced counsels,” interposed Mr. Weller senior, in an undertone.

Gradually and stealthily the king of the forest drew near, muttering to himself, as it were, in an undertone.

He glanced at the watch upon his wrist, adjusted his monocle, and said something in an undertone to the captain.

The pair, seated away in a corner, had been chatting in an undertone when they were compelled to rise.

Dunwoodie spoke a few words with Henry in an undertone, and hastened from the apartment, followed by Frances.


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[ak-suh-lot-l ]

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