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used in a sentence
2 meanings
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1  —as in:
a subtle undertone
Definition a subtle characteristic

(a subtle characteristic is less obvious than surrounding characteristics — though not necessarily less important)
  • She creates humorous art works with serious undertones.
undertones = characteristics that are less obvious
Other Uses (with this meaning)
  • There is an unmistakable threat in her undertones.
  • undertones = subtle
  • It is a cool gray with a blue undertone.
  • undertone = less obvious characteristic
  • The coffee has an intense flavor with earthy undertones.
  • undertones = characteristics that are subtle
  • I think I detected an undertone of fear.
  • undertone = less obvious characteristic
  • An undertone of disrespect slipped through.
  • undertone = subtle characteristic
  • An undertone of sarcasm and self-parody help make the series popular.
  • undertone = less obvious characteristic
  • PROCTOR, with a violent undertone: You doubt me yet?
    Arthur Miller  --  The Crucible
  • undertone = expression in tone-of-voice
  • His invitation might have passed as casual, were it not for the undertone.
    William Golding  --  Lord of the Flies
  • undertone = underlying quality
  • Despite the steady musical undertone in his speaking voice Finny couldn't carry a tune, and he couldn't remember the melody or the words to any song.
    John Knowles  --  A Separate Peace
undertone = underlying quality

Dictionary / pronunciation — Google®Dictionary / more samples — Oxford® USDictionary list —®
2  —as in:
said in an undertone
Definition a very quiet or hushed voice
  • They spoke in undertones.
undertones = quiet voices
Other Uses (with this meaning)
  • She muttered something in an undertone too low for me to hear.
  • undertone = quiet voice
  • The two speak together in an undertone.
    Erich Maria Remarque  --  All Quiet on the Western Front
  • undertone = a very quiet or hushed voice
  • "Well," I qualified in an undertone, "he really is Madame Chiang Kai-shek."
    John Knowles  --  A Separate Peace
  • undertone = quiet voice
  • As I stood behind the table, Reenie in an undertone retailed the latest news.
    Margaret Atwood  --  The Blind Assassin
  • undertone = quiet voice
  • Muffled as the sound was by its passage through the church walls, Hester Prynne listened with such intenseness, and sympathized so intimately, that the sermon had throughout a meaning for her, entirely apart from its indistinguishable words. ... Now she caught the low undertone, as of the wind sinking down to repose itself; then ascended with it, as it rose through progressive gradations of sweetness and power, until its volume seemed to envelop her with an atmosphere of awe and solemn grandeur.
    Nathaniel Hawthorne  --  The Scarlet Letter
  • undertone = soft or low-pitched voice
  • "You shouldn't pick on those weaker than yourself," said Callie in a pleased undertone.
    Margaret Atwood  --  The Blind Assassin
undertone = quiet voice

Dictionary / pronunciation — Google®Dictionary / more samples — Oxford® USDictionary list —®
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