A tune is any of a series of musical sounds that form a melody and also a state of harmony, both in terms of music and figuratively. The verb to tune means ‘to adjust a musical instrument to a pitch.’ Followed by in, it means ‘to adjust a radio or TV to receive a signal’ and followed by out it means ‘to stop paying attention.’
- Linda picked up her guitar and played us a tune.
- All the singers in the choir were in tune.
- That politician’s ideas are completely out of tune with modern society.
- Richard is tuning the piano.
- Elsa is trying to tune the radio in to pick up an English language station.
- Most of the students tuned out after the first ten minutes of the math class.
Words often used with tune
sing a different tune: speak or behave differently, because of a change in circumstances. Example: “James has always been very critical of unemployed people, but I expect he’s singing different tune now that he’s lost his job.”
change your tune: change your opinion. Example: “Did I just hear you praising the boss? Well, you’ve certainly changed your tune. You normally say how much you dislike him.”
call the tune: be in charge. Example: “The company has been taken over, so the new owners will be calling the tune from now on.”
Tune dates back to the early 14th century. The noun, meaning ‘a music sound,’ was originally a variant of the noun tone, which came into English from the French ton (musical sound, speech or words) just a short time earlier. It can be traced back to the Latin tonus (‘a sound, tone or accent,’ especially in music) and the Greek tonos, which meant ‘vocal pitch or raising of the voice,’ ‘an accent’ or ‘a key,’ in music, but originally (and literally) meant ‘a stretching, tightening or tight string,’ like you would need on a musical instrument, and was related to toinein (to stretch).