Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. An ulterior, usually implicit meaning or quality; an implication or a hint. Often used in the plural: an overtone of anger barely masked; praise with overtones of envy.
  • n. See harmonic.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A tone whose frequency is an integer multiple of another; a harmonic
  • n. An implicit meaning, as opposed to a hidden meaning or undertone.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. One of the harmonics faintly heard with and at a higher frequency than a fundamental tone as it dies away, produced by some aliquot portion of the vibrating sting or column of air which yields the fundamental tone; one of the natural harmonic scale of tones, as the octave, twelfth, fifteenth, etc.; an aliquot or “partial” tone; a harmonic. See harmonic, and tone.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In music, a harmonic. See harmonic, n., 1.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. (usually plural) an ulterior implicit meaning or quality
  • n. a harmonic with a frequency that is a multiple of the fundamental frequency

Etymologies

over + tone, from German Oberton. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • As such it gradually lost its pejorative overtone, so that both to Jews themselves and to sympathetic gentiles, it sometimes seemed preferable to 'Jew' as a racial term.

    Archive 2010-01-01

  • The movie's unmistakable, though largely tacit theme is homosexuality in the full, unliberated postwar sense of the word - Matthew Parris said that its clenched pejorative overtone is traditionally conveyed with the long vowels fastidiously drawn out: hoa-moa-sexuality.

    Culture | guardian.co.uk

  • Edit we can linguistically deconstruct “evolve” into “e” (out) and “volve” (roll or turn with a kind of overtone of fold).

    Special Magazine Issues on Darwin, Evolution, ID Creationism - The Panda's Thumb

  • This word "overtone" is used unscientifically by many.

    Expressive Voice Culture, Including the Emerson System

  • Harmonics • An 'overtone' is a partial (a \ "partial wave\" or \ "constituent frequency\") that can be either a harmonic or an inharmonic.

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  • "We certainly are" came a voice from the shortest of the cabal members, with a kind of overtone of 'there's strength in numbers' - or was it 'the more the merrier'?

    open source theology - Comments

  • Though many on the ground in the struggle against the Shah were leftists and other secular democratic forces -- some of whom organized important strikes, demonstrations, and other actions independently from the religious hierarchy -- the religious overtone of the demonstrations was apparent in the slogans, communiqués, banners, graffiti, and other means throughout the 13-month struggle that led to the Shah's overthrow in February 1979.

    Stephen Zunes: Why Egypt Will Not Turn Into Another Iran

  • Though many on the ground in the struggle against the Shah were leftists and other secular democratic forces -- some of whom organized important strikes, demonstrations, and other actions independently from the religious hierarchy -- the religious overtone of the demonstrations was apparent in the slogans, communiqués, banners, graffiti, and other means throughout the 13-month struggle that led to the Shah's overthrow in February 1979.

    Stephen Zunes: Why Egypt Will Not Turn Into Another Iran

  • I wrote it in a supernatural setting with a satirical overtone.

    Finding the Right Market « Write Anything

  • It has to do with the kind of visual overtone that emanates from the work of certain photographers who have managed to gain access into this level of performance within the medium.

    John W. Whitehead: Linda McCartney: Life in Photographs

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