Definition of tune in English:

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Pronunciation: /t(y)o͞on/


1A melody, especially one that characterizes a certain piece of music: she left the theater humming a cheerful tune
More example sentences
  • Jayachandran dismisses the allegation that some of the music composers lift the tune from old songs.
  • For the fanfares and songs, the music director used tunes from Byrd's Battle and other programmatic courtly pieces.
  • The music was some catchy tunes by Richard Rodgers that my friend and I were humming incessantly!
melody, air, strain, theme;
song, jingle, ditty
informal earworm
1.1 informal A piece of popular music: DJ Samantha provided the tunes their 1995 hit has been resurrected into a modern-day classic dance tune
More example sentences
  • The smooth, hour-long journey along the highway with tunes blaring was exhilarating but strangely relaxing.
  • The dance floor spins pop tunes for the masses.
  • While hanging in the barn, don't forget to spin some country tunes.


[with object]
1Adjust (a musical instrument) to the correct or uniform pitch: he tuned the harp for me
More example sentences
  • It will take money to tune the pianos, but that is far less than what it would cost to purchase a new piano.
  • Now this isn't the only way to tune musical instruments.
  • Advertisements for a piano tuning school pictured a woman tuning an upright piano.
adjust, fine-tune, tune up
2Adjust (a receiver circuit such as a radio or television) to the frequency of the required signal: the radio was tuned to the CBC [no object]: they tuned in to watch the game
More example sentences
  • Some radio telescopes can be tuned to this frequency, but some simply can't.
  • This Radio is tuned to ‘inspirational’ easy listening and that's all we get.
  • One radio was tuned to the tanker-control frequency and the other radio directly to the tanker.
3 (often tune up) Adjust (an engine) or balance (mechanical parts) so that a vehicle runs smoothly and efficiently: the suspension was tuned for a softer ride figurative state officials have been tuning up an emergency plan
More example sentences
  • What a difference in performance when your body, like your vehicle, is finely tuned and ‘adjusted’.
  • If you show me a dad who thinks he's a great car mechanic, I will show you a badly tuned engine.
  • Before tuning the engine, you must use a fuel injector additive to improve injection.
4Adjust or adapt (something) to a particular purpose or situation: the animals are finely tuned to life in the desert
More example sentences
  • Bone is a structure finely tuned to its mechanical environment.
  • Our own internal pacemaker tunes our mental and physical energy levels more or less to the cycles of sunlight.
attune, adapt, adjust, fine-tune;
regulate, modulate



call the tune

see call.

change one's tune

see change.

in (or out of) tune

With correct (or incorrect) pitch or intonation.
Example sentences
  • Its musicians are in tune with Morricone's music.
  • Worshippers are encouraged to be careful about diction, stay in tune, sing exact note values, and avoid forcing the sound.
  • Central is a grand piano which was apparently always out of tune in Tchaikovsky's day.
3.1(Of an engine or other machine) properly (or poorly) adjusted.
Example sentences
  • Exploiting the carburetor's consistency achieves little if the engine is out of tune.
  • Did you know that by keeping your car's engine in tune you would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 5-15%?
  • Keeping your engine in tune is also a gas-saver.
3.2In (or not in) agreement or harmony: he was out of tune with conventional belief
More example sentences
  • The urban radio stations talking about ‘peace in the streets ‘are out of tune with reality.’
  • Martin Dunne: ‘Central policy makers are totally out of tune with the views of the people around the country.’
  • It just seemed to us that the politicians - all of them, in all the different parties - are out of tune with how ordinary people feel about this.
in accord, in keeping, in accordance, in agreement, in harmony, in step, in line, in sympathy, compatible

to the tune of

informal Amounting to or involving (a specified considerable sum): he was in debt to the tune of forty thousand dollars
More example sentences
  • During the first two months of the financial year the trust has already overspent to the tune of £208,000.
  • Three businesses in South Lakeland have received grants to the tune of £3,000.
  • The report also shows the Cathedral is in the black to the tune of £113,000.

Phrasal verbs


be tuned in

informal Be aware of, sensitive to, or able to understand something: it’s important to be tuned in to your child’s needs
More example sentences
  • The cable industry is tuned in to the complaints about indecency.
  • In true Mediterranean spirit, the production is tuned in to the vibrancy of life itself.
  • It is a politics of listening, responding, engaging, trading; of being tuned in with others.

tune into

Become sensitive to: you must tune into the needs of loved ones

tune out

informal Stop listening or paying attention.
Example sentences
  • Natalie tuned out the lecture and took to watching her teacher warily.
  • She tuned out their conversation and paid attention to the food in front of her.
  • The key now is to tune out the ‘white noise’ and stop fighting.

tune someone/something out

Not listen or pay attention to someone or something.
Example sentences
  • Tim tunes him out, paying attention to the road.
  • She tuned him out by listening to a loud guitar riff on her headphones.
  • ‘If you were a friend, maybe I'd listen,’ Jen said coolly, tuning him out.

tune something out

Exclude a sound or transmission of a particular frequency.
Example sentences
  • There's such an overload of environmental messages that people are tuning it out.
  • Brooke tuned their conversation out, her thoughts focusing on Duncan.
  • Brooke tuned the voice out at that point.

tune up

(Of a musician) adjust one’s instrument to the correct or uniform pitch: we could hear the band tuning up
More example sentences
  • The backstage area at the club is filled with a discordant mix of musicians tuning up and trams for the Disneyland concourse whizzing by.
  • In between the dance numbers and while the musicians were tuning up and the dancers changing shoes; you could indulge in some celebrity spotting.
  • Musicians in Swindon are tuning up.



Pronunciation: /ˈt(y)o͞onəb(ə)l/
(also tuneable) adjective
Example sentences
  • Most scientists strongly distrust large-scale numerical models which rely heavily on tuneable parameters and other artificial constraints to keep them from going haywire.
  • In the late 1950s and early 1960s, a number of expensive tunable radios begin to pop up in specialty electronics catalogs.
  • Each of the ground harps has 22 tunable pairs of strings organised in a pentatonic scale, rather like the tuning of a lute.


Late Middle English: unexplained alteration of tone. The verb is first recorded (late 15th century) in the sense 'celebrate in music, sing'.

Words that rhyme with tune

afternoon, attune, autoimmune, baboon, balloon, bassoon, bestrewn, boon, Boone, bridoon, buffoon, Cameroon, Cancún, cardoon, cartoon, Changchun, cocoon, commune, croon, doubloon, dragoon, dune, festoon, galloon, goon, harpoon, hoon, immune, importune, impugn, Irgun, jejune, June, Kowloon, lagoon, lampoon, loon, macaroon, maroon, monsoon, moon, Muldoon, noon, oppugn, picayune, platoon, poltroon, pontoon, poon, prune, puccoon, raccoon, Rangoon, ratoon, rigadoon, rune, saloon, Saskatoon, Sassoon, Scone, soon, spittoon, spoon, swoon, Troon, tycoon, typhoon, Walloon

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: tune

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