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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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]
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.
lower the tonediminish 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.