soft·en | \ˈsȯ-fən \
softened; softening\ˈsȯ-fə-niŋ, 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 up soften 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, 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

Add carrots and cook in a single layer, undisturbed, until beginning to soften and brown underneath, about 2 minutes. Chris Morocco, Bon Appetit, "Spicy Pork Bowl with Greens and Carrots," 4 June 2018 In Ballmer’s later years as CEO, the company began to soften its stance. Eric Newcomer,, "Microsoft’s GitHub Deal Triggers Coders’ Trust Issues," 4 June 2018 Grill, uncovered, just until the avocado is charred and begins to soften, about 5 minutes. San Antonio Express-News, "Recipe: Grilled Peach Toast with Pimiento Cheese," 30 May 2018 Cook, stirring often, for 5 to 6 minutes, until the shallots have begun to soften. Domenica Marchetti, charlotteobserver, "These are 4 of the easiest weeknight pastas you’ll ever find | Charlotte Observer," 22 May 2018 Over medium-low heat, stir mixture until berries begin to soften, about 3 to 5 minutes. Darlene Zimmerman, Detroit Free Press, "Healthy Table: Daily cup or two of coffee may have health benefits," 13 May 2018 To deepen their flavor, try roasting the berries: Toss them with a little oil and heat them just until the fruit is aromatic and begins to soften. Noelle Carter,, "Tips and recipes using summer-ish berries, now in season," 11 May 2018 Stir in the tomatoes and red pepper flakes, season with salt and black pepper, and cook until the tomatoes have begun to soften, about 5 minutes. Debbi Snook,, "Paula Wolfert's Armenian Cauliflower (recipe)," 25 Apr. 2018 Stir in the onion and chiles; cook for about 5 minutes, until the onion begins to soften, then add the maple syrup, chili sauce and broth. Jason Wilson, sacbee, "Vermont industry turns over a new leaf | The Sacramento Bee," 24 Apr. 2018

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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Phrases Related to soften

cushion/soften the blow

soften up

Statistics for soften

Last Updated

7 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for soften

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

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More Definitions for soften



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 \
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

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


evasion of direct action or statement

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