Definition of tune in US English:



  • 1A melody, especially one which characterizes a certain piece of music.

    ‘she left the theater humming a cheerful tune’
    • ‘His tunes for the melodious music of Baiju Bawra and Mother India still hold listeners spellbound.’
    • ‘Jayachandran dismisses the allegation that some of the music composers lift the tune from old songs.’
    • ‘The characters walked around the place shaking hands and interacting with kids as they gently danced with them to the tunes at the background music.’
    • ‘Their programme will include Irish tunes and slow airs, some Scottish tunes and Yiddish folk music!’
    • ‘For the fanfares and songs, the music director used tunes from Byrd's Battle and other programmatic courtly pieces.’
    • ‘Today, the folks sway to the tunes of Hindustani classical music.’
    • ‘He was singing softly at the tune of the melody too.’
    • ‘Full of sparking little tunes, these pieces are huge fun and they contribute greatly to the magical sound world of this disc.’
    • ‘Those interested need not worry about knowing the tunes as sheet music will be provided on the night.’
    • ‘This one abounds with marvelous music, and familiar tunes brought to life by mostly classically-trained voices.’
    • ‘After churning out some of Bollywood's most melodious tunes, music directors and partners Jatin-Lalit are all set to go.’
    • ‘Schuman's scoring cannot change the music or the basic tune.’
    • ‘She begins to hum the tune of the music, weeping, as the Artist strides away.’
    • ‘She was singing a little song that she had made up from the tune of the music box her mother had given her.’
    • ‘I started to hum a tune along with the music I was playing.’
    • ‘The poem is set to the music of the British tune, To Anacreon in Heaven.’
    • ‘If I had to suggest a downside to the Patio, it would have to be the choice of tunes masquerading as background music.’
    • ‘The music was some catchy tunes by Richard Rodgers that my friend and I were humming incessantly!’
    • ‘Ella and I danced of course, to both upbeat, lively tunes and slow melodies.’
    • ‘They performed a variety of music from simple tunes to Beethoven and from classical to jazz.’
    melody, air, strain
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1informal A piece of popular music.
      ‘DJ Samantha provided the tunes’
      ‘their 1995 hit has been resurrected into a modern-day classic dance tune’
      • ‘There were a bunch of losers there, but they were cranking some pretty good tunes, so I thought, I can hang for a while.’
      • ‘They played my favorite tune.’
      • ‘The dance floor spins pop tunes for the masses.’
      • ‘I try to warm up the car by cranking the tunes.’
      • ‘At least they're not blasting their tunes in the car loud enough to bother those around them.’
      • ‘While hanging in the barn, don't forget to spin some country tunes.’
      • ‘Instead of driving down Main Street on a Friday night blasting the latest tunes with friends, these kids stay busy in neon-lit arcades and shops.’
      • ‘The DJ played some funky tunes, and I had a great night.’
      • ‘The smooth, hour-long journey along the highway with tunes blaring was exhilarating but strangely relaxing.’
      • ‘The club will have a band playing your favourite tunes, mouth-watering food, and fantasy cocktails.’


[with object]
  • 1Adjust (a musical instrument) to the correct or uniform pitch.

    ‘he tuned the harp for me’
    • ‘Finally a string broke with a noise that sounded like a badly tuned guitar.’
    • ‘It will take money to tune the pianos, but that is far less than what it would cost to purchase a new piano.’
    • ‘I never could decide if he tuned the guitars a half-step lower to get that sound, or if my turntable was set too fast.’
    • ‘Keiko stared at the doorway as Kakeru tuned his new violin.’
    • ‘The club was a cacophony of down tuned guitars, slap bass and the drummer's double kick.’
    • ‘Advertisements for a piano tuning school pictured a woman tuning an upright piano.’
    • ‘I did have one of those moments in the violin concerto when I wondered whether the violin was tuned sharp, or whether it was written that way, or whether I was being Ms Cloth Ears.’
    • ‘Frank and Joseph were tuning their respective guitars, while Alistair was fiddling with a screw on his drum set.’
    • ‘Who would expect a Swiss army knife to be capable of tuning a piano?’
    • ‘Viggo was completely engrossed with tuning his guitar.’
    • ‘Now this isn't the only way to tune musical instruments.’
    • ‘When I got there, Tyler was sitting behind the drums, Nick was tuning his guitar, and Josh was pulling double duty with the bass and singing.’
    • ‘She has as much chance of fixing it as a gorilla has of tuning a violin.’
    • ‘He tuned the piano for us the first day he arrived-he had perfect pitch.’
    • ‘One of them was tuning a bass guitar, listening to the laughter around him.’
    • ‘She stood and tuned her violin for a few moments, and then opened the music to the Tchaikovsky concerto.’
    • ‘Pretty soon, the group are providing a perfectly rhythmic and tuned percussion backing.’
    • ‘Virginia was tuning her guitar to the keyboard at which Susan had seated herself.’
    • ‘No one tunes a piano with a hammer, but I sometimes see racers take a sledgehammer approach to tuning engines.’
    • ‘The MC's announcement and the sound of Rory tuning his guitar before the opening song, ‘Cradle Rock’, gives an atmospheric intro to the album.’
    adjust, adjust to the correct pitch, tune up
    View synonyms
  • 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’
    • ‘One radio was tuned to the tanker-control frequency and the other radio directly to the tanker.’
    • ‘The radio was already tuned to WABC, the dial set there on my ride home from work where Sean Hannity usually keeps me entertained.’
    • ‘Some radio telescopes can be tuned to this frequency, but some simply can't.’
    • ‘My first memories of listening to the John Peel show was in bed, under the covers, with my little transistor radio tuned to BBC Radio 1 in 1977.’
    • ‘My car radio was constantly tuned to 96 Rock in those days.’
    • ‘Inside mission control a television is tuned to a public celebration.’
    • ‘He hears a beep from his radio, which is tuned to the LAPD band.’
    • ‘The radio had been tuned to some sort of country station that I had never heard of before.’
    • ‘Each output port includes optical receivers which are tuned to the same fixed wavelength which is specific to the output port.’
    • ‘She kept a small transistor radio tuned to a lite-rock station, the only sound besides the humming of the drink cases.’
    • ‘I was still tuned to Radio Scotland as I drove along the M9.’
    • ‘My radio was tuned to NPR, my primary source of news since I didn't have a TV at the time.’
    • ‘This Radio is tuned to ‘inspirational’ easy listening and that's all we get.’
    • ‘All the televisions were tuned to the Weather Channel and workers buttressed the hotel's smoked-glass windows with sheets of plywood.’
    • ‘All we could here was the radio which was tuned to 99.9.’
    • ‘My car radio is permanently tuned to Heart 106.2 and Magic.’
    • ‘Investigators found the radio tuned to the wrong VOR frequency.’
    • ‘The radio is tuned to KOTR, known Locally as the Otter.’
    • ‘A receiver tuned to this frequency is used to track the path of the line.’
    • ‘Anywhere in the crowd it was possible to tune a transistor radio to a translation in the language of your choice.’
  • 3often tune upAdjust (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’
    • ‘The suspension has been specifically tuned with emphasis on ride comfort.’
    • ‘The instructions for tuning the motor seem to be off a different car entirely.’
    • ‘The engines we were using were tuned for reliability, not speed.’
    • ‘Schumacher still loves race karts and he can sometimes still be found at the track tuning the engines, mucking in.’
    • ‘If you show me a dad who thinks he's a great car mechanic, I will show you a badly tuned engine.’
    • ‘Only a perfectly tuned engine can turn in the fuel consumption figures ratified for a vehicle by the Government.’
    • ‘What a difference in performance when your body, like your vehicle, is finely tuned and ‘adjusted’.’
    • ‘The diesel mechanics had worked indoors prior to 1988, during which time diesel engines were run indoors during servicing and tuning.’
    • ‘I had spent months, when I was younger, tuning that engine.’
    • ‘No one tunes a piano with a hammer, but I sometimes see racers take a sledgehammer approach to tuning engines.’
    • ‘Clark says any poorly tuned engine can pollute.’
    • ‘Before tuning the engine, you must use a fuel injector additive to improve injection.’
    • ‘The sound of a well tuned engine was heard by all.’
    • ‘The body is considerably more rigid which enhances safety and suspension tuning.’
    • ‘This gives people the chance to slow down to hear how beautifully your cousin Alberto has tuned your engine.’
    • ‘The fully independent suspension has been tuned with performance in mind.’
    • ‘The suspension is tuned for a balance between comfort and handling and is OK by me for everyday motoring.’
    • ‘It is nowhere near as big and threatening as top-end SUVs and, thanks to suspension tuned for tarmac rather than mud, rides quite well on the road.’
    • ‘The company's acoustic boffins tuned the engine to introduce a throatier sounding note, so the all enveloping deep bass throb rising to spine tingling wail exists.’
    • ‘GM's High Performance Vehicle Operations tuned the suspension and upgraded the brakes of the SS.’
  • 4Adjust or adapt (something) to a particular purpose or situation.

    ‘the animals are finely tuned to life in the desert’
    • ‘Our own internal pacemaker tunes our mental and physical energy levels more or less to the cycles of sunlight.’
    • ‘Bone is a structure finely tuned to its mechanical environment.’
    attune, adapt, adjust, fine-tune
    View synonyms


  • in (or out of) tune

    • 1With correct (or incorrect) pitch or intonation.

      • ‘Worshippers are encouraged to be careful about diction, stay in tune, sing exact note values, and avoid forcing the sound.’
      • ‘Both groups sang very much in tune, but unlike, say, certain more modern groups, intonation never excited you by itself.’
      • ‘Central is a grand piano which was apparently always out of tune in Tchaikovsky's day.’
      • ‘Petts Wood Methodist Men's Group is getting in tune for a sing song.’
      • ‘These discs have a refreshingly homemade quality that is in tune with the music that they contain; they are professional but hardly slick.’
      • ‘Its musicians are in tune with Morricone's music.’
      • ‘Each forthcoming note must be heard as a complete entity, in tune, with all musical parameters in place.’
      • ‘How can you tell when a violist is playing out of tune?’
      • ‘The out of tune orchestra Elgar leads is so painfully unaware of their playing that this is an extremely unpleasant recording.’
      • ‘Her voice melodic and in tune, she sang it softly.’
      1. 1.1(of an engine or other machine) properly (or poorly) adjusted.
        • ‘When your car's engine is badly worn or out of tune, the tailpipe emissions of such noxious by-products as carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and particulate matter are greatly increased.’
        • ‘Keeping your engine in tune is also a gas-saver.’
        • ‘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%?’
        • ‘The downsides were a serious thirst for fuel when one put the foot down and the twin choke Dellorto carburettors being difficult to keep in tune.’
      2. 1.2In (or not in) agreement or harmony.
        ‘he was out of tune with conventional belief’
        • ‘We have laws in place which are clearly out of tune with the views of the majority of the population.’
        • ‘Soccer's most famous musicians, who bang the drums at Sheffield Wednesday games, stand accused of being out of tune with their own supporters.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘An attitude of arrogance and the kind of insufferable self-confidence of that Cardinal is very much out of tune with the Church and its mission.’
        • ‘The urban radio stations talking about ‘peace in the streets ‘are out of tune with reality.’’
        • ‘‘It is clearly discriminatory and clearly out of tune with the times,’ he said.’
        • ‘The mass signing is intended to show the Executive that it is out of tune with ‘ordinary Scots’ right across the country.’
        • ‘But isn't it a little out of tune with the campaign Dean's been running?’
        • ‘You know, John says that he is out of tune with the American people.’
        in accord, in keeping, in accordance, in agreement, in harmony, harmonious, in step, in line, in sympathy
        in disagreement, at odds, at variance, out of step, not in harmony, at outs, out of kilter
        View synonyms
  • to the tune of

    • informal Amounting to or involving (a specified considerable sum)

      ‘he was in debt to the tune of forty thousand dollars’
      • ‘The move is expected to boost the state coffers to the tune of £33.6 million next year.’
      • ‘During the first two months of the financial year the trust has already overspent to the tune of £208,000.’
      • ‘This means the state is defrauded nationally to the tune of £2 billion each year.’
      • ‘That means she has been compensated to the tune of €83,000 for each of the months she was in charge.’
      • ‘Thompson has had to pay some in advance, a commitment that has set him back to the tune of nearly £30,000.’
      • ‘The report also shows the Cathedral is in the black to the tune of £113,000.’
      • ‘In his view, the the private sector will benefit to the tune of 600 million leva.’
      • ‘Three businesses in South Lakeland have received grants to the tune of £3,000.’
      • ‘The other main area of overspending is children's disability services, to the tune of 250,000.’
      • ‘Last week the news broke that even chewing gum was to be taxed to the tune of 15 cent a packet.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • be tuned in

    • Be aware of, sensitive to, or able to understand something.

      ‘it's important to be tuned in to your child's needs’
      • ‘It is a politics of listening, responding, engaging, trading; of being tuned in with others.’
      • ‘The cable industry is tuned in to the complaints about indecency.’
      • ‘If the new carer is tuned in to your child's needs, your child should settle quickly into a new routine.’
      • ‘She is tuned in to a powerful domain of secrets and souls that just might trump the logic of the material world.’
      • ‘In true Mediterranean spirit, the production is tuned in to the vibrancy of life itself.’
  • tune into

    • Become sensitive to.

      ‘you must tune into the needs of loved ones’
  • tune out

    • Stop listening or paying attention.

      • ‘Natalie tuned out the lecture and took to watching her teacher warily.’
      • ‘Maybe we were loud, I tended to tune out whatever background noise was going on and just listen to the people.’
      • ‘This was what classes were to be like, how teachers should be like; not bad to look at, easy to listen to, and easier to tune out from.’
      • ‘Prudence tried to tune out their angry voices, instead listening to the sound of her own heartbeat.’
      • ‘This was a year where advertisers were very worried about the death of the 30-second spot because people were tuning out of television.’
      • ‘They start tuning out and completely miss the message.’
      • ‘The key now is to tune out the ‘white noise’ and stop fighting.’
      • ‘She tuned out their conversation and paid attention to the food in front of her.’
      • ‘University campuses have become so cartoonishly left-wing that many students are essentially just tuning out their professors.’
      • ‘The problem is that it's just this kind of attitude that makes it less likely your grades will improve; by tuning out, you'll only make it more likely that you won't do as well as you should next time.’
  • tune someone/something out

    • Not listen or pay attention to someone or something.

      • ‘If all you ever do is tell the entire group, ‘You guys are great,’ some of them will eventually tune you out.’
      • ‘Tim tunes him out, paying attention to the road.’
      • ‘‘If you were a friend, maybe I'd listen,’ Jen said coolly, tuning him out.’
      • ‘No matter what mindless insanity she was talking about, I'm pretty sure I could just tune her out.’
      • ‘You were tuning me out, I could tell by the tone of your voice.’
      • ‘I'll just tune him out when he plays whatever pop the kids request.’
      • ‘When your mom is freaking for the umpteenth time about the dirty-denim mound in your room, it's totally tempting to tune her out.’
      • ‘I tried to tune her out but she kept asking how to pronounce some of the longer words.’
      • ‘She tuned him out by listening to a loud guitar riff on her headphones.’
      • ‘They may argue or seem to tune you out, but they're still listening to what you have to say.’
  • tune something out

    • Exclude a sound or transmission of a particular frequency.

  • tune up

    • (of a musician) adjust one's instrument to the correct or uniform pitch.

      ‘we could hear the band tuning up’
      • ‘The sudden sound of instruments tuning up broke the eye contact at last and made us both look toward the other end of the hall.’
      • ‘Musicians in Swindon are tuning up.’
      • ‘In between the dance numbers and while the musicians were tuning up and the dancers changing shoes; you could indulge in some celebrity spotting.’
      • ‘Behind them, we hear a string quartet tuning up for its requiem.’
      • ‘The backstage area at the club is filled with a discordant mix of musicians tuning up and trams for the Disneyland concourse whizzing by.’
      • ‘The band was tuning up their instruments.’
      • ‘The crowd inside the square was moving again, filling into the center of the area as the members of the mariachi tuned up their instruments.’
      • ‘Even from the opening moments, as the band tunes up its instruments, we know this movie is going to be about the music.’
      • ‘The only music to be heard was some of the brass section tuning up their instruments.’
      • ‘Already, the members of the orchestra were tuning up their instruments so it wouldn't be too long before the show started.’


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