tone [tone tones toned toning] noun, verb BrE [təʊn]
NAmE [toʊn]
noun  OF VOICE
1. countable the quality of sb'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. singular the general character and attitude of sth 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.  
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  
4. countable a shade of a colour
a carpet in warm tones of brown and orange  
5. uncountable how strong and firm your muscles or skin are
how to improve your muscle/skin tone  
6. countable a sound heard on a telephone line: (BrE) the dialling tone
(NAmE) the dial tone
Please speak after the tone (= for example as an instruction on an answering machine).  
7. (BrE) (US ˈwhole 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 n. (10) 
8. countable the pitch (= how high or low a sound is) of a syllable in speaking
a rising/falling tone
9. a particular pitch pattern on a syllable in languages such as Chinese, that can be used to distinguish different meanings  
10. (in adjectives) having the type of tone mentioned
a bright-toned soprano
olive-toned skin
Word Origin:
Middle English: from Old French ton, from Latin tonus, from Greek tonos ‘tension, tone’, from teinein ‘to stretch’.
Example Bank:
‘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
Derived: tone something down
1. transitive ~ sth (up) to make your muscles, skin, etc. firmer and stronger
Massage will help to tone up loose skin under the chin.
a beautifully toned body  
2. intransitive ~ (in) (with sth) (BrE) to match the colour of sth
The beige of his jacket toned (in) with the cream shirt.
Verb forms:
Word Origin:
Middle English: from Old French ton, from Latin tonus, from Greek tonos ‘tension, tone’, from teinein ‘to stretch’.
See also: whole step

WordNet Dictionary:
1. the quality of a person's voice
- he began in a conversational tone
- he spoke in a nervous tone of voice
Syn: tone of voice
- the Beijing dialect uses four tones
- the timbre of her soprano was rich and lovely
- the muffled tones of the broken bell summoned them to meet
Syn: timbre, timber, quality
- the feel of the city excited him
- a clergyman improved the tone of the meeting
- it had the smell of treason
5. a quality of a given color that differs slightly from another color
- after several trials he mixed the shade of pink that she wanted
Syn: shade, tint, tincture
6. a notation representing the pitch and duration of a musical sound
- the singer held the note too long
Syn: note, musical note
- they tested his hearing with pure tones of different frequencies
Syn: pure tone
9. a musical interval of two semitones
Syn: whole tone, step, whole step
10. 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
1. change the color or tone of
- tone a negative
5. utter monotonously and repetitively and rhythmically
- The students chanted the same slogan over and over again
Syn: chant, intone

Webster's 1913 Dictionary:
n.1.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.
[Harmony divine] smooths her charming tones.
Tones that with seraph hymns might blend.
2.(Rhet.) Accent, or inflection or modulation of the voice, as adapted to express emotion or passion.
Eager his tone, and ardent were his eyes.
3.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.(Mus.) A sound considered as to pitch; as, the seven tones of the octave; she has good high tones.
5.(Med.) 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.
6.(Physiol.) Tonicity; as, arterial tone.
7.State of mind; temper; mood.
The strange situation I am in and the melancholy state of public affairs, . . . drag the mind down . . . from a philosophical tone or temper, to the drudgery of private and public business.
Their tone was dissatisfied, almost menacing.
8.Tenor; character; spirit; drift; as, the tone of his remarks was commendatory.
9.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.
10.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.
11.(Physiol.) Quality, with respect to attendant feeling; the more or less variable complex of emotion accompanying and characterizing a sensation or a conceptual state; as, feeling tone; color tone.
12.Color quality proper; - called also hue. Also, a gradation of color, either a hue, or a tint or shade.
She was dressed in a soft cloth of a gray tone.
13.(Plant Physiol.) The condition of normal balance of a healthy plant in its relations to light, heat, and moisture.
Tone color
(Mus.) see the Note under def. 4, above.
Tone syllable
an accented syllable.
v. t.1.To utter with an affected tone.
[imp. & p. p. Toned ; p. pr. & vb. n. Toning.]
2.To give tone, or a particular tone, to; to tune. See Tune, v. t.
3.(Photog.) To bring, as a print, to a certain required shade of color, as by chemical treatment.
To tone down
a - To cause to give lower tone or sound; to give a lower tone to.
b - (Paint.) To modify, as color, by making it less brilliant or less crude; to modify, as a composition of color, by making it more harmonius.
Its thousand hues toned down harmoniusly.
The best method for the purpose in hand was to employ some one of a character and position suited to get possession of their confidence, and then use it to tone down their religious strictures.

Dictionary of Computing:
tone - brightness

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