tone noun

1 quality of a sound, especially of the human voice

ADJ. deep, low | falling, rising The rising tone of her voice emphasized her panic. | hushed, quiet, subdued speaking in hushed tones | clear, ringing | sharp, shrill, stentorian, strident | gravelly | dry, even, expressionless, flat, level, measured, neutral The question was posed in a flat tone. | normal, reasonable | brisk, businesslike, matter-of-fact She answered him in a brisk, matter-of-fact tone. | commanding, firm, forthright | formal | sepulchral, solemn | dramatic, urgent | casual, offhand | bright, conversational | gentle, mild, pleasant, soft, sympathetic, warm Her tone was mild, almost conversational. | dulcet, honeyed (both often ironic) We heard the dulcet tones of the sergeant, bawling at us to get on parade. | clipped, cool, curt, frigid, hard, harsh, icy In cool, clipped tones, he told her what had happened. | aggressive, biting, contemptuous, disapproving, dismissive, ironic, mocking, patronizing, sarcastic, sardonic, scathing, threatening His tone was faintly mocking. | aggrieved, reproachful, shocked | bantering, conciliatory, conspiratorial, reverential, wheedling

VERB + TONE adopt, speak in, take When she heard my accent, she adopted a warmer tone. Don't you take that tone with me. | soften | change | interpret Her tone was hard to interpret.

TONE + VERB change His tone changed dramatically when he saw the money. | convey sth, imply sth, indicate sth, suggest sth | betray sb/sth, give away sb/sth Her tone betrayed her impatience.

PREP. in a/the ~ ‘You ought to have thought of them,’ she said in a reproachful tone. | in ~s of ‘I don't believe it!’ cried Henry in tones of utter amazement.

PHRASES a tone of voice I didn't like his tone of voice; I felt he was being condescending.

2 general quality/style of sb/sth

ADJ. dominant, general, overall, prevailing The general tone of the report was favourable. | moral, political, social The newspaper sets a high moral tone in its editorial about politicians' private lives. | favourable | negative | comic, humorous

VERB + TONE set Her enthusiastic speech set the tone for the day's conference.

PREP. in ~ His letter was very negative in tone.

3 shade of a colour

ADJ. light, muted, neutral, pale, pastel, soft muted tones of grey and brown | dark, deep | rich, warm | earthy, flesh, grey, natural, silvery | colour | skin What is your natural skin tone?

4 on the telephone

ADJ. dial/dialling, engaged

VERB + TONE get I keep getting the engaged tone.