An undertone is literally a muted tone of voice, but it can also refer to an unspoken, implied meaning or emotion: "I thought there were undertones of hostility in her supposed apology."

An undertone is a muted color or sound, like the blue undertones in your new gray wallpaper or the undertones of murmured conversations in a busy restaurant. When someone speaks in an undertone, it means that they whisper or talk very softly. You might tell you sister about your dad's surprise party in an undertone, so he doesn't overhear. These days, the word is most commonly used to refer to a subtle or implied meaning in an utterance.

Definitions of undertone
  1. noun
    a subdued emotional quality underlying an utterance; implicit meaning
    synonyms: undercurrent
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    type of:
    meaning, substance
    the idea that is intended
  2. noun
    a quiet or hushed tone of voice
    “spoke in undertones
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    type of:
    tone, tone of voice
    the quality of a person's voice
  3. noun
    a pale or subdued color
    synonyms: tinge
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    type of:
    shade, tincture, tint, tone
    a quality of a given color that differs slightly from another color
Word Family
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