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

  • n. Music A sound of distinct pitch, quality, and duration; a note.
  • n. Music The interval of a major second in the diatonic scale; a whole step.
  • n. Music A recitational melody in a Gregorian chant.
  • n. The quality or character of sound.
  • n. The characteristic quality or timbre of a particular instrument or voice.
  • n. The pitch of a word used to determine its meaning or to distinguish differences in meaning.
  • n. The particular or relative pitch of a word, phrase, or sentence.
  • n. Manner of expression in speech or writing: took an angry tone with the reporters.
  • n. A general quality, effect, or atmosphere: a room with an elegant tone.
  • n. A color or shade of color: light tones of blue.
  • n. Quality of color: The green wallpaper had a particularly somber tone.
  • n. The general effect in painting of light, color, and shade.
  • n. Physiology The normal state of elastic tension or partial contraction in resting muscles.
  • n. Physiology Normal firmness of a tissue or an organ.
  • transitive v. To give a particular tone or inflection to.
  • transitive v. To soften or change the color of (a painting or photographic negative, for example).
  • transitive v. To sound monotonously; intone.
  • transitive v. To make firmer or stronger. Often used with up: exercises that tone up the body.
  • intransitive v. To assume a particular color quality.
  • intransitive v. To harmonize in color.
  • tone down To make less vivid, harsh, or violent; moderate.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A specific pitch.
  • n. (in the diatonic scale) An interval of a major second.
  • n. (in a Gregorian chant) A recitational melody.
  • n. The character of a sound, especially the timbre of an instrument or voice.
  • n. General character, mood, or trend.
  • n. The pitch of a word that distinguishes a difference in meaning, for example in Chinese.
  • n. The manner in which speech or writing is expressed.
  • n. The shade or quality of a colour.
  • n. The definition and firmness of a muscle or organ. see also: tonus
  • n. The state of a living body or of any of its organs or parts in which the functions are healthy and performed with due vigor.
  • n. Normal tension or responsiveness to stimuli.
  • v. to give a particular tone to
  • v. to change the colour of
  • v. to make (something) firmer
  • v. to harmonize, especially in colour
  • pro. The one (of two).

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Sound, or the character of a sound, or a sound considered as of this or that character.
  • n. Accent, or inflection or modulation of the voice, as adapted to express emotion or passion.
  • n. 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.
  • n.
  • n. A sound considered as to pitch
  • n. 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.
  • n. The peculiar quality of sound in any voice or instrument.
  • n. A mode or tune or plain chant.
  • n. 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.
  • n. Tonicity.
  • n. State of mind; temper; mood.
  • n. Tenor; character; spirit; drift.
  • n. General or prevailing character or style, as of morals, manners, or sentiment, in reference to a scale of high and low.
  • n. 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.
  • n. Quality, with respect to attendant feeling; the more or less variable complex of emotion accompanying and characterizing a sensation or a conceptual state.
  • n. Color quality proper; -- called also hue. Also, a gradation of color, either a hue, or a tint or shade.
  • n. The condition of normal balance of a healthy plant in its relations to light, heat, and moisture.
  • transitive v. To utter with an affected tone.
  • transitive v. To give tone, or a particular tone, to; to tune. See Tune, v. t.
  • transitive v. To bring, as a print, to a certain required shade of color, as by chemical treatment.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • In printing, to grade or soften with a graver, or roulette, or by etching certain parts (especially the edges) of (an illustration, usually an electrotype), as an aid in reducing the quantity of ink caused by pressure in printing.
  • To tune. See tune.
  • To utter in an affected or drawling tone.
  • To give tone or quality to, in respect either to sound or to color or tint.
  • In photography, to alter the color, as of a picture in finishing it, to give it greater brilliancy or a more agreeable tint.
  • To give a more subdued tone to; reduce or moderate the characteristic opinions or expressions of; render less confident, pronounced, or decided; soften.
  • To take on a particular tone; specifically, to assume color or tint.
  • To harmonize in tone, color, or tint.
  • One: originally and usually preceded by the, and usually followed by the tother. See etymology. Compare tother.
  • n. In philology, a distinctive quality or pitch forming in some languages a fixed feature of the pronunciation of words, as in Chinese, Swedish, etc.
  • n. In telephonic testing, the humming noise produced by the introduction of an alternating or rapidly alternating current into the line
  • n. Any sound considered with reference to its acuteness or gravity (pitch), openness, dullness, purity, sweetness, harshness, or the like (quality or timbre), or loudness or softness (strength or volume).
  • n. Specifically In musical acoustics, a sound having definiteness and continuity enough so that its pitch, force, and quality may be readily estimated by the ear, and so that it may be employed in musical relations; musical sound: opposed to noise. See sound.
  • n. Modulation, inflection, or accent of the voice, as adapted to express sentiment, emotion, or passion.
  • n. An affected or artificial style of intonation in speaking or reading; a sing-song or measured rhythmical manner of speaking.
  • n. In music, one of the larger intervals of a diatonic series or scale; a whole step or “whole tone” as distinguished from a half-step or semitone.
  • n. In Gregorian music, a melody or tune traditionally associated with a particular text; an ancient psalm-tune. See chant .
  • n. In medicine, the state of tension or firmness proper to the tissues of the body; the state in which all the parts and organs have due tension or are well strung; the strength and activity of the organs on which healthy functions depend; hence, that state of the body in which all the animal functions are performed with healthy vigor. See tonicity.
  • n. State or temper of mind; mood.
  • n. Tenor; spirit; strain; quality; specifically, the general or prevailing character or style, as of morals, manners, or sentiments, especially a marked degree of such style.
  • n. In painting, the prevailing effect of color, or the general effect produced by the management of light and shade in a picture: as, dark, light, or silvery tone.
  • n. A quality of color; a tint; a shade.
  • n. In chromatics, see the first quotation.
  • n. In photography, the color of a finished positive picture, in many processes due to a chemical operation supplementary to those of producing and fixing the picture: as, a print of a brown, gray, or black tone; also, sometimes, the color of the film of a negative, etc.
  • n. In grammar, syllabic accent; stress of voice on one of the syllables of a word.
  • n. In playing on musical instruments of the stringed and brass wind groups, a tone produced from an open string or without the use of valves or other modifiers of the pitch. Opposed to stopped tone.
  • n. Synonyms Noise, etc. See sound.

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

  • n. (music) the distinctive property of a complex sound (a voice or noise or musical sound)
  • n. a musical interval of two semitones
  • n. the general atmosphere of a place or situation and the effect that it has on people
  • n. the quality of something (an act or a piece of writing) that reveals the attitudes and presuppositions of the author
  • n. a notation representing the pitch and duration of a musical sound
  • v. change to a color image
  • n. the elastic tension of living muscles, arteries, etc. that facilitate response to stimuli
  • n. the quality of a person's voice
  • n. a quality of a given color that differs slightly from another color
  • v. utter monotonously and repetitively and rhythmically
  • v. vary the pitch of one's speech
  • n. (linguistics) a pitch or change in pitch of the voice that serves to distinguish words in tonal languages
  • n. a steady sound without overtones
  • v. change the color or tone of
  • v. give a healthy elasticity to


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

Middle English ton, from Old French, from Latin tonus, from Greek tonos, string, a stretching.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From French ton, from Latin tonus ("sound, tone"), from Ancient Greek τόνος (tonos, "strain, tension, pitch"), from τείνω (teinō, "I stretch")

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English tone, ton, toon, from the incorrect division of thet one ("the/that one"). Compare Scots tane in the tane; see also tother.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • "If you can't tone it, tan it." - TP after raging in the Sea Otter Short Track race.

    April 16, 2007