soft·​en | \ ˈsȯ-fən How to pronounce soften (audio) \
softened; softening\ ˈsȯ-​fə-​niŋ How to pronounce soften (audio) , ˈsȯf-​niŋ \

Definition of soften

transitive verb

1 : to make soft or softer
2a : to weaken the military resistance or the morale of especially by harassment (such as preliminary bombardment) often used with up
b : to impair the strength or resistance of often used with upsoften up a sales prospect

intransitive verb

: to become soft or softer her face softened

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Other Words from soften

softener \ ˈsȯ-​fə-​nər How to pronounce soften (audio) , ˈsȯf-​nər \ noun

Examples of soften in a Sentence

The butter will soften if left on the counter overnight. The recipe called for one stick of butter, softened. The oil is used to soften and preserve the leather. The lotion softens dry skin. The company has softened its stance on dating in the workplace. Her face softened when he entered the room. His criticism of the president has softened in the past year. The grass softened my fall.
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Recent Examples on the Web Some occlusives, such as petrolatum and shea butter (yes, shea butter is a good occlusive!), are multitaskers that can smooth and soften skin, acting as emollients, another type of moisturizing agent. Sabina Wizemann, Good Housekeeping, "What You Need to Know About Occlusives in Skincare," 28 Dec. 2020 Salicylic acid works to soften plaques and scales and ultimately remove them from the skin, while tar made from coal or wood works to slow skin cell growth and reduce inflammation and itching. Julie Ricevuto, Allure, "The Science of Beauty: The Complete Guide to Scalp Care," 17 Dec. 2020 Instead his administration moved to soften carbon emissions standards that Biden’s team will likely work to undo as part of the broader commitment to slowing global warming. Michael Balsamo, Anchorage Daily News, "Biden to announce Buttigieg as transportation secretary, officials say," 15 Dec. 2020 Wine treatments can help with stress, soften skin, and provide some anti-inflammatory relief, among other benefits. Andrea Romano, Travel + Leisure, "Celebrate the Yuletide Season by Bathing in a Hot Tub Full of Mulled Wine," 1 Dec. 2020 Made with 100% pure, edible superfoods, this powder-to-gel formula uses papaya enzymes to brighten and soften skin. Kiana Murden, CNN Underscored, "46 beauty products you should honestly just gift yourself," 24 Nov. 2020 As the pandemic wore on, Trump reportedly pressured the agency to soften mask requirements and offer misleading information about school reopenings and testing guidelines, while his administration visibly flouted the CDC’s recommendations. Alexandra Ossola, Quartz, "Three ways the US CDC can regain the public’s trust," 9 Nov. 2020 King said Wrinkles Schminkles eye pads are shown to help soften wrinkles and lines under and around the eyes. Nicole Saunders, NBC News, "8 best under eye patches for dark circles, puffiness and lines," 4 Nov. 2020 Add the onion to the pan and cook, stirring, until starting to soften, about 3 minutes. Washington Post, "Loaded baked potato soup is the simple, luscious bowl of comfort I crave in colder months," 4 Jan. 2021

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

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Time Traveler for soften

Time Traveler

The first known use of soften was in the 14th century

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Statistics for soften

Last Updated

22 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Soften.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for soften


How to pronounce soften (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of soften

: to become less hard or firm or to make (something) less hard or firm
: to make (something) less dry or rough
: to make (something) less severe, harsh, extreme, etc.


soft·​en | \ ˈsȯ-fən How to pronounce soften (audio) \
softened; softening

Kids Definition of soften

1 : to make or become soft or less firm Let the wax soften in the sun.
2 : to make or become gentler or less harsh The elder's stern expression softened.— Brian Jacques, Redwall

Other Words from soften

softener noun

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Comments on soften

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