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coaxed; coaxing; coaxes

transitive verb

: to influence or gently urge by caressing or flattering : wheedle
coaxed him into going
: to draw, gain, or persuade by means of gentle urging or flattery
unable to coax an answer out of him
coaxing consumers to buy new cars
: to manipulate with great perseverance and usually with considerable effort toward a desired state or activity
coax a fire to burn
is optimistic that stem cells can be coaxed into growing into replacement tissue for failing organs
obsolete : fondle, pet


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co·​ax ˈkō-ˌaks How to pronounce coax (audio)

Did you know?

In days of yore, if you wanted to call someone a sap or a dupe, the word cokes was it, what you wanted, the real thing: to make a cokes of someone was to make a fool of them. This now-obsolete noun is believed to be the source of the verb coax. However, the earliest known sense of the verb, appearing in the late 16th century, was not “to make a fool of” (this meaning came later) but rather something sweeter: “to pet or caress; to treat lovingly.” As such an act of coaxing (or “cokesing”) was sometimes done for personal gain or favor, the word soon came to be used to refer to influencing or persuading people by kind acts or words. By the 19th century, the spelling cokes had fallen out of use, along with the meanings “to make a fool of” and “to treat lovingly.”

Choose the Right Synonym for coax

cajole, coax, soft-soap, blandish, wheedle mean to influence or persuade by pleasing words or actions.

cajole suggests the deliberate use of flattery to persuade in the face of reluctance or reasonable objections.

cajoled him into cheating on the final exam

coax implies gentle and persistent words or actions employed to produce a desired effect.

coaxed the cat out of the tree

soft-soap refers to using smooth and somewhat insincere talk usually for personal gain.

politicians soft-soaping eligible voters

blandish implies a more open desire to win a person over by effusive praise and affectionate actions.

legislators blandished with promises of support

wheedle suggests more strongly than cajole the use of seductive appeal or artful words in persuading.

hucksters wheedling her life's savings out of her

Examples of coax in a Sentence

Verb It took almost an hour to coax the cat down from the tree. She tried to coax a raise from her boss. He was unable to coax an answer out of her. He coaxed the fire to burn by blowing on it. The plant is difficult to coax into bloom.
Recent Examples on the Web
The film excels at sketching the ways the story’s human connections coax out a new tenderness in Lia, along with greater sensitivity and open-mindedness in Achi. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 15 Feb. 2024 The Zero to Three foundation has these tips for coaxing the inner chatterbox out of your 12- to 15-month-old. Parents Editors, Parents, 9 Feb. 2024 This gives you some space to coax butter down into the nooks and crannies, plus the second coating ensures crispy perfection. Charlotte Observer, 30 Jan. 2024 Bellomo isn’t, however, a sufficiently penetrating observer or interviewer to coax out the candid human doubts or fears that his two principal subjects otherwise leave unspoken, and their joint narration feels more stoically inspirational than confessional. Guy Lodge, Variety, 29 Jan. 2024 Haley vowed to continue her campaign and tried to coax Trump to the debate stage. Emma Hinchliffe, Fortune, 24 Jan. 2024 But in closing arguments, Collins told jurors that his client’s admissions were meaningless because seasoned officers coaxed them from a man with a confused memory and an IQ of 83. Dan Morse, Washington Post, 18 Jan. 2024 There’s nothing quite like a big bowl of homemade dip to coax people to gather ’round at a party. Matt Brooks, Washington Post, 6 Feb. 2024 North End residents saw a heavy police presence in the Hill Road area Tuesday night when law enforcement spent nearly an hour attempting to coax a man out of a backyard shed. Sally Krutzig, Idaho Statesman, 1 Feb. 2024
Hilary, smarting from a recent fight with David, coaxes Puri to drink with her, giving her helper a makeover and one of her formal gowns and encouraging her to practice her audition song. Rebecca Sun, The Hollywood Reporter, 17 Feb. 2024 And both coax and category 3 UTP can handle the additional bandwidth. Iljitsch Van Beijnum, Ars Technica, 29 June 2023 This means existing household coax installations, which generally make use of only a single cable running to each connected room, won't be of much use. John Herrman, Popular Mechanics, 1 Apr. 2021 Start with your internet modem, the device that most likely has a coax cable connecting it to your wall. Frank Bajak, USA TODAY, 20 Mar. 2020 The Internet service provider terminated their coax in a small closet off the entry hall. Jim Salter, Ars Technica, 8 Jan. 2020 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'coax.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



earlier cokes, from cokes simpleton

First Known Use


1581, in the meaning defined at sense 4


1945, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of coax was in 1581


Dictionary Entries Near coax

Cite this Entry

“Coax.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


: to influence by gentle urging, special attention, or flattering
: to get or win by means of gentle urging or flattery
coaxed a raise from the boss

More from Merriam-Webster on coax

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