Topic: MUSIC

Date: 1200-1300
Language: Latin
Origin: tonus 'tension, tone', from Greek tonos


1 noun
tone1 W2


[countable] the way your voice sounds, which shows how you are feeling or what you mean
in a ... tone
'You must be Annie,' he said in a friendly tone.
in somebody's tone
There was urgency in his tone.
Her tone was sharp with anger.
It was obvious from her tone of voice that she didn't like me.
don't take that tone with me (=do not speak to me in that rude or unpleasant way)


[uncountable and countable]CS the quality of a sound, especially the sound of a musical instrument or someone's voice [↪ pitch, timbre]:
the guitar's clean tone
in ... tones
They talked in hushed tones.
'No I didn't,' he said in a low tone (=quietly).
deep-toned/even-toned/shrill-toned etc (=having a low, calm etc tone)
an even-toned voice

general feeling/attitude

[singular, uncountable] the general feeling or attitude expressed in a piece of writing, a speech, an activity etc
tone of
The tone of the report was radical.
The meetings were noted for their deeply religious tone.
in tone
The article was moderate in tone.
set the tone (for/of something) (=establish the general attitude or feeling of an event, activity etc)
Opening remarks are important since they set the tone for the rest of the interview.


[uncountable and countable]CC one of the many types of a particular colour, each slightly darker, lighter, brighter etc than the next [= shade]
tone of
different tones of green
Perhaps a darker tone would be better.
your skin tone (=the colour of your skin)
in tone
The dried colour is slightly deeper in tone than it appears when first applied.

electronic sound

[countable]CS a sound made by electronic equipment, such as a telephone:
Please leave a message after the tone.
dial tone American English /dialling tone British English (=the sound you hear when you pick up the telephone that lets you know that you can make a call)
busy tone American English /engaged tone British English (=the sound you hear when you telephone someone but they are already talking to someone else)

raise/lower the tone (of something)

to make a place or event more or less socially acceptable, attractive etc:
That horrible building lowers the whole tone of the neighborhood.
Trust you to lower the tone of the conversation (=by making rude remarks etc).


[uncountable] technical how firm and strong your muscles or skin are:
A regular brisk walk will improve muscle tone.


[countable] technicalAPM the difference in pitch between two musical notes that are separated by one key on the piano [= step American English]

voice level

SL [countable] technical how high or low your voice is when you produce different sounds:
There is a falling tone on the first syllable and a rising tone on the other.

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