follow Dictionary.com

What is the X in X-mas?

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.
Cite This Source
Examples from the web for undertone
  • Others also perceived a mercantilist undertone in the president's speech, and not for no reason.
  • They stepped aside and the policeman spoke in an undertone, urging something strongly.
  • The undertone is that they're accelerating but that's an unjustified conclusion from the data.
  • The difference, however, is in the moralistic undertone usually sensed in the former.
  • Anticipation was obvious in people's faces, and the talk became a sort of nervous undertone.
  • Shea's style combines a briskly practical surface with a lyrical undertone.
  • The revolutionary undertone was appropriate, for this was a subversive new model in the staid world of cause marketing.
  • Despite the good cheer, there's a wistful undertone to the proceedings.
  • News from abroad unquestionably played a big part in the strong undertone to the foreign exchange market of yesterday.
  • The flavor was vaguely green and spicy, sweet with a slight smoky undertone.
British Dictionary definitions for undertone

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
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for 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
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for undertone

Some English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for undertone

10
13
Scrabble Words With Friends

Quotes with undertone