soft-ped·​al | \ ˈsȯf(t)-ˈpe-dᵊl How to pronounce soft-pedal (audio) \
soft-pedaled; soft-pedaling; soft-pedals

Definition of soft-pedal

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : play down, de-emphasize soft-pedal the issue
2 : to use the soft pedal in playing

soft pedal


Definition of soft pedal (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a foot pedal on a piano that reduces the volume of sound
2 : something that muffles, deadens, or reduces effect

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Synonyms for soft-pedal

Synonyms: Verb

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Examples of soft-pedal in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Despite its somewhat soft pedal feel, the brakes provide above-average performance, hauling the XC60 down from 70 mph in a short-for-the-class 169 feet. Drew Dorian, Car and Driver, "Long-Term 2019 Volvo XC60: New Engine, New Platform, New Factory, No Surprises," 13 Feb. 2020 Later that year, Buzzfeed News revealed that Yiannapoulos had been secretly working with a range of white supremacists, including staffers at Daily Stormer and American Renaissance, to soft pedal their ideas into the mainstream. Mari Uyehara, GQ, "How Free Speech Warriors Mainstreamed White Supremacists," 8 May 2018 View 75 Photos There’s nothing wrong with the Pathfinder’s braking performance, but there’s nothing confidence inspiring about its soft pedal feel, either. Michael Simari, Car and Driver, "2018 Nissan Pathfinder," 22 Mar. 2018 This isn’t a soft pedaled version of wartime service but a cold, devastating self-examination of the decidedly personal costs of war. Kevin J. Hamilton, The Seattle Times, "‘Eat the Apple’: a Marine’s jarring eyes-on-the-ground view of war," 20 Feb. 2018 This is a two-part skill; his superb legato (or connected articulation) on the keyboard was heightened by skillful deployment of both the sustaining and the soft pedal. Marcus Overton,, "Igor Levit dynamic in La Jolla Music Society recital," 8 Jan. 2018 Braking engages with a soft pedal on initial engagement and follows through with a secure and absolutely flat stop. Mark Maynard,, "2018 Hyundai Elantra GT: Subtle slyness," 6 Oct. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'soft-pedal.' 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 soft-pedal


1912, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1817, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for soft-pedal

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The first known use of soft-pedal was in 1817

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Cite this Entry

“Soft-pedal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Aug. 2020.

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How to pronounce soft pedal (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of soft-pedal

chiefly US, informal : to treat or describe (something) as less important than it really is

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with soft-pedal

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