Definition of tone noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//təʊn//
    ; NAmE NAmE//toʊn//
    Describing music, Phonetics, Skin
    jump to other results
    of voice
  1. 1  [countable] the quality of somebody’s voice, especially expressing a particular emotion speaking in hushed/low/clipped/measured, etc. tones a conversational tone a tone of surprise Don't speak to me in that tone of voice (= in that unpleasant way). There's no need to take that tone with me—it's not my fault we're late.
  2. character/atmosphere
  3. 2  [singular] the general character and attitude of something such as a piece of writing, or the atmosphere of an event The overall tone of the book is gently nostalgic. She set the tone for the meeting with a firm statement of company policy. Trust you to lower the tone of the conversation (= for example by telling a rude joke). The article was moderate in tone and presented both sides of the case. The newspaper said voters had been turned off by the negative tone of the campaign.
  4. of sound
  5. 3  [countable] the quality of a sound, especially the sound of a musical instrument or one produced by electronic equipment the full rich tone of the trumpet the volume and tone controls on a car stereo See related entries: Describing music
  6. colour
  7. 4[countable] a shade of a colour a carpet in warm tones of brown and orange
  8. of muscles/skin
  9. 5[uncountable] how strong and firm your muscles or skin are how to improve your muscle/skin tone See related entries: Skin
  10. on telephone
  11. 6[countable] a sound heard on a telephone line (British English) the dialling tone (North American English) the dial tone Please speak after the tone (= for example as an instruction on an answering machine).
  12. in music
  13. 7 (British English) (US English whole step) [countable] one of the five longer intervals in a musical scale, for example the interval between C and D or between E and F♯ compare semitone, step Wordfinderbeat, harmony, melody, music, note, rhythm, sing, tempo, tone, vocal
  14. phonetics
  15. 8 [countable] the pitch (= how high or low a sound is) of a syllable in speaking a rising/falling tone See related entries: Phonetics
  16. 9 a particular pitch pattern on a syllable in languages such as Chinese, that can be used to distinguish different meanings See related entries: Phonetics
  17. -toned
  18. 10(in adjectives) having the type of tone mentioned a bright-toned soprano olive-toned skin
  19. Word OriginMiddle English: from Old French ton, from Latin tonus, from Greek tonos ‘tension, tone’, from teinein ‘to stretch’. Wordfindercluster, consonant, diphthong, elide, intonation, phonetics, pronunciation, stress, tone, voicedExtra examples ‘You ought to have thought of them,’ she said in a reproachful tone. Don’t you take that tone with me. Excuse me, I don’t like your tone. He uses humour/​humor to lighten the tone of the novel. Her enthusiastic speech set the tone for the day’s conference. Her tone betrayed her impatience. Her tone sounded sincere but I knew she was lying. Her tone was hard to interpret. Her tone was mild, almost conversational. His letter was very negative in tone. His tone changed dramatically when he saw the money. His tone was faintly mocking. I didn’t like his tone of voice; I felt he was being condescending. I keep getting the engaged tone. In cool, clipped tones, he told her what had happened. She answered him in a brisk, matter-of-fact tone. The President struck a defiant tone. The dial tone sounded. The general tone of the report was favourable. The movie has a jokey tone throughout. The music perfectly matches the tone of the movie. The newspaper sets a high moral tone in its editorial about politicians’ private lives. The question was posed in a flat tone. The rising tone of her voice emphasized her panic. There is a marked change of tone in the second half of the book. We heard the dulcet tones of the sergeant, bawling at us to get on parade. What is your natural skin tone? When she heard my accent, she adopted a warmer tone. Why is everyone speaking in hushed tones? You should use a foundation that matches your skin tone. muted tones of brown and green the sweet tone of the flute Dark, rich tones will absorb light to make a room look smaller. Don’t speak to me in that tone of voice. Her hair was lit with copper tones. The rich tone of the oboe is intended to give this piece a sad mood. The tone and volume controls allow you to adjust the sound of the radio. There was a tone of surprise in her voice. They were speaking in hushed tones. Trust you to lower the tone of the conversation! brown tones
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: tone