Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

tone down - definition and synonyms

What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.

Thesaurus diagram

The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

phrasal verb [transitive]
Word Forms
present tense
I/you/we/theytone down
he/she/ittones down
present participletoning down
past tensetoned down
past participletoned down
  1. 1
    to make something less severe, shocking, or offensive

    MPs have been ordered to tone down their criticisms of government policy in the run-up to the election.

  2. 2
    to make the colour, flavour etc of something less strong
See also main entry: tone

Open Dictionary

snap election

a general election … that is called earlier than expected

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog
Macmillan learn live love play