overtone


overtone
overtone, undertone
Both words denote an extra layer of meaning or significance seen in a word or statement. An overtone, which is also commonly used in the plural overtones, suggests subtle additional meaning (and corresponds roughly to the meaning it has in music, i.e. ‘a tone above the lowest in a harmonic scale’):

• The prevailing tone of the book is highly satirical, with strong overtones of slapstick farce —R. L. Wolff, 1977.

An undertone is rather an unexpressed or underlying feeling (and again roughly matches the musical meaning ‘a subdued tone of sound’):

• Welsh's scabrous comedy of alcoholic manners is full of dark undertones —Sunday Times, 2006.


Modern English usage. 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Overtone — O ver*tone , n. [A translation of G. oberton. See {Over}, {Tone}.] (Mus.) One of the harmonics faintly heard with and at a higher frequency than a fundamental tone as it dies away, produced by some aliquot portion of the vibrating sting or column …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • overtone — index implication (inference), innuendo, intimation, suggestion Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • overtone — (n.) 1867, in literal sense, from OVER (Cf. over) + TONE (Cf. tone) (n.); a loan translation of Ger. Oberton, first used by German physicist Hermann Ludwig Ferdinand von Helmholtz (1821 1894) as a contraction of Overpartialton upper partial tone …   Etymology dictionary

  • overtone — [n] implication, hint association, connotation, flavor, inference, innuendo, intimation, meaning, nuance, sense, suggestion, tone, undercurrent, undertone; concept 278 …   New thesaurus

  • overtone — ► NOUN 1) a musical tone which is a part of the harmonic series above a fundamental note, and may be heard with it. 2) a subtle or subsidiary quality, implication, or connotation …   English terms dictionary

  • overtone — [ō′vər tōn΄] n. [transl. of Ger oberton, contr. < oberpartialton, upper partial tone] 1. Acoustics Music any of the attendant higher tones heard with a fundamental tone produced by the vibration of a given string or column of air, having a… …   English World dictionary

  • Overtone — Overtones redirects here. For other uses, see Overtones (disambiguation). An overtone is any frequency higher than the fundamental frequency of a sound. The fundamental and the overtones together are called partials. Harmonics are partials whose… …   Wikipedia

  • overtone — UK [ˈəʊvə(r)ˌtəʊn] / US [ˈoʊvərˌtoʊn] noun [countable] Word forms overtone : singular overtone plural overtones a quality or feature that is noticeable but not obvious a book with political overtones …   English dictionary

  • overtone — noun ADJECTIVE ▪ strong ▪ a play with strong religious overtones ▪ serious ▪ negative ▪ The word ‘cheap’ has negative overtones …   Collocations dictionary

  • overtone — virštonis statusas T sritis fizika atitikmenys: angl. higher harmonic; overtone vok. Oberton, m rus. обертон, m pranc. note harmonique, f; son harmonique, m …   Fizikos terminų žodynas


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