Etymology
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tone (n.)

mid-14c., "musical sound or note," from Old French ton "musical sound, speech, words" (13c.) and directly from Latin tonus "a sound, tone, accent," literally "stretching" (in Medieval Latin, a term peculiar to music), from Greek tonos "vocal pitch, raising of voice, accent, key in music," originally "a stretching, tightening, taut string," which is related to teinein "to stretch" (from PIE root *ten- "to stretch").

The sense of "manner of speaking" is from c. 1600. In reference to firmness of body, from 1660s. As "prevailing state of manners" from 1735; as "style in speaking or writing which reveals attitude" from 1765. Tone-deaf is by 1880; tone-poem by 1845.

tone (v.)

"to impart tone to," 1811, from tone (n.). Related: Toned; toning. To tone (something) down originally was in painting (1831); general sense of "reduce, moderate" is by 1847.

updated on June 11, 2022

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Definitions of tone from WordNet
1
tone (n.)
the quality of a person's voice;
he spoke in a nervous tone of voice
he began in a conversational tone
Synonyms: tone of voice
tone (n.)
(linguistics) a pitch or change in pitch of the voice that serves to distinguish words in tonal languages;
the Beijing dialect uses four tones
tone (n.)
(music) the distinctive property of a complex sound (a voice or noise or musical sound);
the muffled tones of the broken bell summoned them to meet
Synonyms: timbre / timber / quality
tone (n.)
the general atmosphere of a place or situation and the effect that it has on people;
a clergyman improved the tone of the meeting
Synonyms: spirit / feel / feeling / flavor / flavour / look / smell
tone (n.)
a quality of a given color that differs slightly from another color;
Synonyms: shade / tint / tincture
tone (n.)
a notation representing the pitch and duration of a musical sound;
Synonyms: note / musical note
tone (n.)
a steady sound without overtones;
they tested his hearing with pure tones of different frequencies
Synonyms: pure tone
tone (n.)
the elastic tension of living muscles, arteries, etc. that facilitate response to stimuli;
Synonyms: tonicity / tonus
tone (n.)
a musical interval of two semitones;
Synonyms: whole tone / step / whole step
tone (n.)
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
2
tone (v.)
utter monotonously and repetitively and rhythmically;
Synonyms: chant / intone
tone (v.)
vary the pitch of one's speech;
Synonyms: inflect / modulate
tone (v.)
change the color or tone of;
tone a negative
tone (v.)
change to a color image;
tone a photographic image
tone (v.)
give a healthy elasticity to;
Let's tone our muscles
Synonyms: tone up / strengthen
From wordnet.princeton.edu, not affiliated with etymonline.