\ˈkōks \
coaxed; coaxing; coaxes

Definition of coax 

(Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to influence or gently urge by caressing or flattering : wheedle coaxed him into going

2 : 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

3 : 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

4 obsolete : fondle, pet


co·​ax | \ˈkō-ˌaks \

Definition of coax (Entry 2 of 2)

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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

Did You Know?


In the days of yore, if you made a cokes of someone, you made a fool of them. Cokes-a now-obsolete word for "fool"-is believed to be the source of our verb coax, which was first used in the 16th century (with the spelling cokes) to mean "to make a fool of." Soon, the verb also took on the kinder meaning of "to make a pet of." As might be expected, the act of cokesing was sometimes done for personal gain. By the 17th century, the word was being used in today's senses that refer to influencing or persuading people by kind acts or words. By the early 19th century, the spelling cokes had fallen out of use, along with the meanings "to make a fool of" and "to make a pet of."

Examples of coax in a Sentence


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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Her Swipe lip colors ($24) and rouges ($26) are embossed with fingerprints: coaxing Generation Snapchat into relaxed face painting, and suggestive of its casual surrender of personal data. New York Times, "Linda Wells Shows Flesh: Woke Makeup for Revlon," 21 June 2018 Confronted with such confounding disarray, coach Tyronn Lue couldn’t coax a championship lineup to save his life. Bruce Jenkins, San Francisco Chronicle, "Warriors, Celtics: It feels like a collision course," 15 May 2018 For the neighborhood, to coax more life from behind storefronts that stand empty. Alison Bowen,, "From prison to pioneer: a chef's dream to transform one Chicago corner," 9 July 2018 Liberty Island was evacuated on Wednesday as police scrambled to coax a woman down from the base of the Statue of Liberty, sparking security concerns and creating a Fourth of July social-media sensation. Leslie Brody, WSJ, "Statue of Liberty Climber is in Custody," 4 July 2018 The woman, identified as Therese Patricia Okoumou, began climbing the statue and was caught on camera as U.S. Park police and the New York Police Department tried to coax her off the statue, according to CNN. Alexia Fernandez,, "Woman Climbs the Statue of Liberty Prompting Mass Evacuation During Fourth of July Celebrations," 4 July 2018 Mallee is still trying to coax more from his young hitters, Williams included. Scott Lauber,, "Nick Williams, with inside info from hitting coach, powers Phillies win over Cubs," 5 June 2018 If so much noise could come from a rusty nail spring-released to drag round a piece of Bakelite, why not use a crank-wound spring to coax sound from a radio? The Economist, "Trevor Baylis died on March 5th," 16 Mar. 2018 There are images of his 296-pound yellowfin tuna, the thresher shark landed off of Oceanside and the 6-pound brown trout coaxed from Hot Creek in the shadow of the Eastern Sierra. Bryce Miller,, "Meet Kevin Mattson, the most fished-crazed person in San Diego," 2 Mar. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

To it all work, Daytona put in 1.3 million feet of copper wiring, 500,000 feet of coax and 150 miles of fiberoptics, including more than 75 telecommunication rooms to house the CDW storage and networking solutions. Tim Newcomb, Popular Mechanics, "The Tech-Forward Reinvention of Daytona Speedway," 15 Feb. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'coax.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of coax


1581, in the meaning defined at sense 4


1945, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for coax


earlier cokes, from cokes simpleton

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Statistics for coax

Last Updated

4 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for coax

The first known use of coax was in 1581

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More Definitions for coax



English Language Learners Definition of coax

: to influence or persuade (a person or animal) to do something by talking in a gentle and friendly way

: to get (something) by talking in a gentle and friendly way

: to cause (something) to do something by making a careful and continual effort


\ˈkōks \
coaxed; coaxing

Kids Definition of coax

1 : to influence by gentle urging, special attention, or flattering She coaxed her kitty out of the tree.

2 : to get or win by means of gentle urging or flattery He coaxed a raise from the boss.

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Comments on coax

What made you want to look up coax? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


playful or foolish behavior

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