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Related to tones: ringing tones

abrasive tone

A sound that is grating, dissonant, or generally unpleasant to hear. I find that a lot of music has such an abrasive tone these days that I can't even bear to listen to it.
See also: tone

tone someone or something up

to make someone or something stronger or more fit, muscularly. I suggested an exercise that would tone him up and make him feel better. The exercises toned up his tummy muscles. I need to get busy and tone myself up.
See also: tone, up

tone something down

to cause something to have less of an impact on the senses of sight or sound; to lessen the impact of something prepared for public performance or consumption. This is rather shocking. You had better tone it down a bit. Tone down this paragraph.
See also: down, tone

set the tone (for something)

to establish a particular mood or character for something The governor's speech was intended to set the tone for the party's national convention next week.
Usage notes: sometimes used with an adjective before tone: The announcement of last month's sales figures set an optimistic tone for the meeting.
See also: set, tone

tone down something

also tone something down
to make something less forceful or offensive The foul language in the original play has been toned down for television. Your presentation has to be convincing, so don't tone it down.
See also: down, tone

lower the tone

if something lowers the tone of a place, it makes it less suitable for people of a high social class, and if something lowers the tone of a conversation or a piece of writing, it makes it less polite or of a lower quality (usually + of ) The locals don't like students living around here. It lowers the tone of the neighbourhood. Trust you to lower the tone of the evening by telling rude jokes, Ian!
See also: lower, tone

set the tone

if something someone says or does sets the tone for an event or activity, it establishes the way that event or activity will continue, especially the mood of the people involved (often + for ) He was furious when she arrived late, and that set the tone for the whole evening.
See also: set, tone

tone down

Make less vivid, harsh, or violent; moderate. For example, That's a little too much rouge; I'd tone it down a bit, or Do you think I should tone down this letter of complaint? This idiom uses tone in the sense of "adjust the tone or quality of something," as does the antonym, tone up, meaning "brighten or strengthen." For example, These curtains will tone up the whole room, or This exercise is said to tone up the triceps. [Mid-1800s]
See also: down, tone

tone down

To make something less vivid, harsh, or violent; moderate something: We toned down our comedy routine so as not to offend our audience. The decorator suggested a beige material to tone the room down.
See also: down, tone

tone in

To match or harmonize with something: The sofa was a strange color, but it toned in well after we painted the walls. That new house doesn't tone in with the rest of the neighborhood.
See also: tone

tone up

1. To make something firmer or stronger: Walking to work has toned up my legs. I toned my stomach up by doing sit-ups every day.
2. To become firmer or stronger: My body has really toned up since I started this exercise program.
See also: tone, up
References in classic literature ?
It so happened, that, at the moment he began to speak, silence had just been restored, and, although his voice was very soft and gentle in its tone, every one heard his question.
Manicamp, leaning on the arm of a gigantic trooper, as firm as the pillar of a cathedral, replied in his usual tranquil tone of voice, -- "And you, monsieur?
You see that he is mad," he said, in a low tone, to Gossip Tourangeau.
Here Jacques Coictier, who had been unhorsed by the archdeacon's impetuous replies, regained his saddle, and interrupted him with the triumphant tone of one learned man correcting another,--"
For a strange wondrous tone was heard in the narrow streets of a large town.
he called out impatiently; and she came back, with a slight glance of surprise at his tone.
Her husband looked at her as if surprised to notice that someone besides Pierre and himself was in the room, and addressed her in a tone of frigid politeness.
Rosa's speech seemed to have brought a certain conviction into the heart of Van Systens, and he was going to answer her in a gentler tone, when at once a great noise was heard in the street, and loud cheers shook the house.
His deep voice dropped suddenly to a low and quiet tone as he spoke the parting words.
There was no answer to her question, but she was satisfied and putting her arm round her friend, she said, in her most persuasive tone, "My precious Polly, do I know him?
She would gladly have given all the French she could jabber for a pair of golden bells with pearl-tipped tongues, like those Ariadne wore; and, clasping her hands, she answered, in a tone that went to the hearer's heart
But the ominous alteration in his tone made another woman of me.
Oh, things that happened the week after next,' the Queen replied in a careless tone.
From his tone both Kitty and Anna knew that a reconciliation had taken place.
He was not inclined to cry, and did not feel that Maggie's grief spoiled his prospect of the sweets; but he went and put his head near her, and said in a lower, comforting tone,--