—n. 1. any sound considered with reference to its quality, pitch, strength, source, etc.: shrill tones. 2. quality or character of sound.
3. vocal sound; the sound made by vibrating muscular bands in the larynx.
4. a particular quality, way of sounding, modulation, or intonation of the voice as expressive of some meaning, feeling, spirit, etc.: a tone of command. 5. an accent peculiar to a person, people, locality, etc., or a characteristic mode of sounding words in speech.
6. stress of voice on a syllable of a word.
7. Ling.a musical pitch or movement in pitch serving to distinguish two words otherwise composed of the same sounds, as in Chinese.
8. Music. a. a musical sound of definite pitch, consisting of several relatively simple constituents called partial tones, the lowest of which is called the fundamental tone and the others harmonics or overtones.
b. an interval equivalent to two semitones; a whole tone; a whole step.
c. any of the nine melodies or tunes to which Gregorian plainsong psalms are sung.
9. a quality of color with reference to the degree of absorption or reflection of light; a tint or shade; value.
10. that distinctive quality by which colors differ from one another in addition to their differences indicated by chroma, tint, shade; a slight modification of a given color; hue: green with a yellowish tone. 11. Art.the prevailing effect of harmony of color and values.
12. Physiol. a. the normal state of tension or responsiveness of the organs or tissues of the body.
b. that state of the body or of an organ in which all its functions are performed with healthy vigor.
c. normal sensitivity to stimulation.
13. a normal healthy mental condition.
14. a particular mental state or disposition; spirit, character, or tenor.
15. a particular style or manner, as of writing or speech; mood: the macabre tone of Poe's stories. 16. prevailing character or style, as of manners, morals, or philosophical outlook: the liberal tone of the 1960's. 17. style, distinction, or elegance.
—v.t. 1. to sound with a particular tone.
2. to give the proper tone to (a musical instrument).
3. to modify the tone or general coloring of.
4. to give the desired tone to (a painting, drawing, etc.).
5. Photog.to change the color of (a print), esp. by chemical means.
6. to render as specified in tone or coloring.
7. to modify the tone or character of.
8. to give or restore physical or mental tone to.
—v.i. 1. to take on a particular tone; assume color or tint.
2. tone down, a. to become or cause to become softened or moderated: The newspaper toned down its attack. b. Painting.to make (a color) less intense in hue; subdue.
3. tone up, a. to give a higher or stronger tone to.
b. to gain or cause to gain in tone or strength: toning up little-used muscles. 4. tone with or in with,to harmonize in tone or coloring; blend: The painting tones with the room.