What does tone mean?

Definitions for tone

Here are all the possible meanings and translations of the word tone.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. tone, tone of voice(noun)

    the quality of a person's voice

    "he began in a conversational tone"; "he spoke in a nervous tone of voice"

  2. tone(noun)

    (linguistics) a pitch or change in pitch of the voice that serves to distinguish words in tonal languages

    "the Beijing dialect uses four tones"

  3. timbre, timber, quality, tone(noun)

    (music) the distinctive property of a complex sound (a voice or noise or musical sound)

    "the timbre of her soprano was rich and lovely"; "the muffled tones of the broken bell summoned them to meet"

  4. spirit, tone, feel, feeling, flavor, flavour, look, smell(noun)

    the general atmosphere of a place or situation and the effect that it has on people

    "the feel of the city excited him"; "a clergyman improved the tone of the meeting"; "it had the smell of treason"

  5. shade, tint, tincture, tone(noun)

    a quality of a given color that differs slightly from another color

    "after several trials he mixed the shade of pink that she wanted"

  6. note, musical note, tone(noun)

    a notation representing the pitch and duration of a musical sound

    "the singer held the note too long"

  7. tone, pure tone(noun)

    a steady sound without overtones

    "they tested his hearing with pure tones of different frequencies"

  8. tonicity, tonus, tone(noun)

    the elastic tension of living muscles, arteries, etc. that facilitate response to stimuli

    "the doctor tested my tonicity"

  9. tone, whole tone, step, whole step(noun)

    a musical interval of two semitones

  10. tone(verb)

    the quality of something (an act or a piece of writing) that reveals the attitudes and presuppositions of the author

    "the general tone of articles appearing in the newspapers is that the government should withdraw"; "from the tone of her behavior I gathered that I had outstayed my welcome"

  11. tone, chant, intone(verb)

    utter monotonously and repetitively and rhythmically

    "The students chanted the same slogan over and over again"

  12. tone, inflect, modulate(verb)

    vary the pitch of one's speech

  13. tone(verb)

    change the color or tone of

    "tone a negative"

  14. tone(verb)

    change to a color image

    "tone a photographic image"

  15. tone, tone up, strengthen(verb)

    give a healthy elasticity to

    "Let's tone our muscles"

Webster Dictionary

  1. Tone(noun)

    sound, or the character of a sound, or a sound considered as of this or that character; as, a low, high, loud, grave, acute, sweet, or harsh tone

  2. Tone(noun)

    accent, or inflection or modulation of the voice, as adapted to express emotion or passion

  3. Tone(noun)

    a whining style of speaking; a kind of mournful or artificial strain of voice; an affected speaking with a measured rhythm ahd a regular rise and fall of the voice; as, children often read with a tone

  4. Tone(noun)

    a sound considered as to pitch; as, the seven tones of the octave; she has good high tones

  5. Tone(noun)

    the larger kind of interval between contiguous sounds in the diatonic scale, the smaller being called a semitone as, a whole tone too flat; raise it a tone

  6. Tone(noun)

    the peculiar quality of sound in any voice or instrument; as, a rich tone, a reedy tone

  7. Tone(noun)

    a mode or tune or plain chant; as, the Gregorian tones

  8. Tone(noun)

    that state of a body, or of any of its organs or parts, in which the animal functions are healthy and performed with due vigor

  9. Tone(noun)

    tonicity; as, arterial tone

  10. Tone(noun)

    state of mind; temper; mood

  11. Tone(noun)

    tenor; character; spirit; drift; as, the tone of his remarks was commendatory

  12. Tone(noun)

    general or prevailing character or style, as of morals, manners, or sentiment, in reference to a scale of high and low; as, a low tone of morals; a tone of elevated sentiment; a courtly tone of manners

  13. Tone(noun)

    the general effect of a picture produced by the combination of light and shade, together with color in the case of a painting; -- commonly used in a favorable sense; as, this picture has tone

  14. Tone(verb)

    to utter with an affected tone

  15. Tone(verb)

    to give tone, or a particular tone, to; to tune. See Tune, v. t

  16. Tone(verb)

    to bring, as a print, to a certain required shade of color, as by chemical treatment


  1. Tone

    Tone is the use of pitch in language to distinguish lexical or grammatical meaning—that is, to distinguish or inflect words. All verbal languages use pitch to express emotional and other paralinguistic information, and to convey emphasis, contrast, and other such features in what is called intonation, but not all languages use tones to distinguish words or their inflections, analogously to consonants and vowels. Such tonal phonemes are sometimes called tonemes, where each toneme is a lexically distinct variant of the same phoneme, that is phonetically distinguished from other tonemes only by the tone of the vowel. Tonal languages are extremely common in Africa, East Asia, and Central America, but rare elsewhere in Asia and in Europe; as many as seventy percent of world languages may be tonal. In many tonal African languages, such as most Bantu languages, tones are distinguished by their pitch level relative to each other, known as a register tone system. In multisyllable words, a single tone may be carried by the entire word, rather than a different tone on each syllable. Often grammatical information, such as past versus present, "I" versus "you", or positive versus negative, is conveyed solely by tone.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Tone

    tōn, n. the character of a sound: quality of the voice: harmony of the colours of a painting, also its characteristic or prevailing effect as due to the management of chiaroscuro and to the effect of light upon the quality of colour: (phot.) the shade or colour of a finished positive picture: (gram.) syllabic stress, special accent given to a syllable: character or style: state of mind: mood: a healthy state of the body.—v.t. to utter with an affected tone: to intone, to utter in a drawling way: to give tone or quality to, in respect either of sound or colour: to alter or modify the colour.—adj. Tō′nal.—n. Tonal′ity.—adjs. Toned, having a tone (in compounds); Tone′less.—Tone down, to give a lower tone to, to moderate, to soften, to harmonise the colours of as to light and shade, as a painting. [L. tonus—Gr. tonos, a sound—teinō, to stretch.]

Suggested Resources

  1. tone

    Song lyrics by tone -- Explore a large variety of song lyrics performed by tone on the Lyrics.com website.

  2. TONE

    What does TONE stand for? -- Explore the various meanings for the TONE acronym on the Abbreviations.com website.

British National Corpus

  1. Spoken Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'tone' in Spoken Corpus Frequency: #2413

  2. Written Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'tone' in Written Corpus Frequency: #4435

  3. Nouns Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'tone' in Nouns Frequency: #910

How to pronounce tone ?

  1. Alex
    US English

How to say tone in sign language?

  1. tone


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of tone in Chaldean Numerology is: 3

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of tone in Pythagorean Numerology is: 9

Examples of tone in a Sentence

  1. Ted Cruz:

    I'm going to leave tone to the judges of tone.

  2. Alan Kazdin:

    The tone of voice is the issue, not the 'please,'.

  3. Finance Minister Joe Ceci:

    This budget is setting the right tone for this time.

  4. Chris Gaffney:

    We're seeing a generally hawkish tone out of the Fed.

  5. Oscar Auliq-Ice:

    You are in control of how you set the tone of your day.

Images & Illustrations of tone

  1. tonetonetonetonetone

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for tone

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

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"tone." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 18 Jun 2019. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/tone>.

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