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Alternative forms[edit]


tone-deaf (comparative more tone-deaf, superlative most tone-deaf)

  1. Unable to clearly distinguish the difference in pitch between different notes.
    Although he was tone-deaf, he was a great lyricist.
    This is a distinction unavailable to the tone-deaf.
  2. (colloquial) Having little appreciation of music, whether or not as a result of tone deafness.
  3. (colloquial) Out of touch with the experience of ordinary people.
    a politician's tone-deaf remarks about the price of bread
    The elected official's tone-deaf remarks about the operations of the clerk’s office were disappointing.
  4. (colloquial) Insensitive and offensive as a result of not noticing the current social context.
    • 2023 May 24, Philip Galanes, “I Used a Slur for Accuracy When Repeating a Joke. Why Is Everyone Upset?”, in The New York Times[1]:
      Otherwise, saying “N-word” is plenty accurate; I knew exactly what you meant. And arguing for your need to use an explosive term, when a common euphemism will do, makes you seem defensive and tone-deaf.

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