verb \ˈkōks\

Definition of coax

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 obsolete :  fondle, pet

  3. 2 :  to influence or gently urge by caressing or flattering :  wheedle coaxed him into going

  4. 3 :  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

  5. 4 :  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

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Examples of coax in a sentence

  1. It took almost an hour to coax the cat down from the tree.

  2. She tried to coax a raise from her boss.

  3. He was unable to coax an answer out of her.

  4. He coaxed the fire to burn by blowing on it.

  5. The plant is difficult to coax into bloom.

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."

Origin and Etymology of coax

earlier cokes, from cokes simpleton

First Known Use: 1581

Synonym Discussion of 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.



noun co·ax \ˈkō-ˌaks\

Definition of coax


First Known Use of coax


COAX Defined for English Language Learners



verb \ˈkōks\

Definition of coax for English Language Learners

  • : 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

COAX Defined for Kids


verb \ˈkōks\

Definition of coax for Students




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

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

Seen and Heard

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


to criticize severely

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