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undertone

[uhn-der-tohn] /ˈʌn dərˌtoʊn/
noun
1.
a low or subdued tone:
to speak in undertones.
2.
an unobtrusive or background sound:
an undertone of static from the receiver.
3.
an underlying quality or element; undercurrent:
There was an undertone of regret in his refusal.
4.
a subdued color; a color modified by an underlying color.
Origin
1800-1810
1800-10; under- + tone
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for under tone

undertone

/ˈʌndəˌtəʊn/
noun
1.
a quiet or hushed tone of voice
2.
an underlying tone or suggestion in words or actions his offer has undertones of dishonesty
3.
a pale or subdued colour
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for under tone

undertone

n.

1762, "low or subdued tone," from under + tone. Figurative sense of "undercurrent of feelings, etc.," is attested from 1861.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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