tone

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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

lower the tone

To make something less polite, intellectual, or cultured. The fart jokes really lowered the tone of an otherwise smart and engaging film.
See also: lower, tone

set the tone

To establish the mood of something, or the manner in which something will be conducted. Her warm greeting really set the tone for the dinner party, which was one of the loveliest I have ever attended. The first paragraph really sets the tone for the rest of the piece by introducing subtle humor and an unexpected point of view.
See also: set, 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

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

lower the tone

If something lowers the tone of a place or event, it makes it seem less respectable. Councillors say plastic-framed windows lower the tone of the neighbourhood. I drank four cans of beer — I pride myself on lowering the tone at parties where everyone else is drinking champagne.
See also: lower, tone

lower the tone

diminish the spirit or moral character of a conversation, place, etc.
Tone here is used to mean the general character or attitude of a conversation, place, piece of writing, etc.
See also: lower, tone

lower the ˈtone (of something)

make the general character and attitude of something, such as a place, a piece of writing or the atmosphere of an event, less polite or respectable: Residents were afraid that a fast-food restaurant would lower the tone of the street.
See also: lower, tone

set the ˈtone (of/for something)

create or establish a general feeling or atmosphere among a group of people (about a particular subject): His very clever and very funny speech set the tone for the rest of the evening.
See also: set, tone

tone down

v.
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

v.
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.
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tone up

v.
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