tone

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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.
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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 down

To make something less intense, ostentatious, or harsh. A noun or pronoun can be used between "tone" and "down." You should really tone down the angry rhetoric in the article, or people won't take it seriously. I get that you're going for a unique look, but your outfit clashes really badly. Try toning it down a bit.
See also: down, tone

tone in (with something)

To blend, match, or be congruous (with something). I really hate the design he came up with for this extension—it just doesn't tone in with the rest of the house at all! Considering the pastel colors of the rest of the house, I think a "mint ice cream" hue would tone in nicely for the front hallway.
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tone up

1. To become leaner, tighter, and more muscular. I really want to tone up before my wedding this August.
2. To cause someone or some body part to become leaner, tighter, and more muscular. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "tone" and "up." Our program promises to tone you up in just six weeks. Cycling to work each morning has gone a long way toward toning up my legs.
See also: tone, up

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.
See also: tone

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
References in classic literature ?
"I was saying, monsieur le comte," resumed Buckingham, in a tone of anger more marked than ever, although in some measure moderated by the presence of an equal, "I was saying that it is impossible these tents can remain where they are."
There was something defiant--almost threatening--in her tone. Horace was annoyed--and he showed it when he spoke.
She was quite frightened this time, and said in an anxious tone, as she picked him up, 'I hope no bones are broken?'
'Does that kind go smoothly?' the Knight asked in a tone of great interest, clasping his arms round the horse's neck as he spoke, just in time to save himself from tumbling off again.
However, though she could see nothing but the soles of his feet, she was much relieved to hear that he was talking on in his usual tone. 'All kinds of fastness,' he repeated: 'but it was careless of him to put another man's helmet on--with the man in it, too.'
'Well, not the NEXT course,' the Knight said in a slow thoughtful tone: 'no, certainly not the next COURSE.'
'You are sad,' the Knight said in an anxious tone: 'let me sing you a song to comfort you.'
And what IS this on my head?' she exclaimed in a tone of dismay, as she put her hands up to something very heavy, and fitted tight all round her head.
G., in a tone which implied that her indignation would fizz and ooze a little, though she was determined to keep it corked up, "you'd far better hold your tongue.
Glegg in a melancholy tone, as he followed his wife out of the room.
"Well, I despise you." If she had even said `I hate you' in a petulant or coquettish tone, he would have laughed and rather liked it, but the grave, almost sad, accent in her voice made him open his eyes, and ask quickly...
"Am I selfish?" The question slipped out involuntarily and in a tone of surprise, for the one virtue on which he prided himself was generosity.
"I think they would," came from under the hat, in a grim tone, quite as touching as a broken one.
"No, you didn't, you knew perfectly well I never cared for anyone but Jo," Laurie said that in his old, impetuous tone, and turned his face away as he spoke.
"Don't, that's her name for me!" And Laurie put up his hand with a quick gesture to stop the words spoken in Jo's half-kind, half-reproachful tone. "Wait till you've tried it yourself," he added in a low voice, as he pulled up the grass by the handful.