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 up soften up a sales prospect

intransitive verb

: to become soft or softer her face softened

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web There is a push among veteran players such as Seattle’s Breanna Stewart to soften the salary cap to allow for more minimum-contract players. Gary Washburn,, 7 May 2022 The Philippines’ security establishment ultimately persuaded him to soften his stance toward the U.S., which supports Manila’s territorial claims in the South China Sea and is a mutual defense-treaty ally. Feliz Solomon, WSJ, 6 May 2022 Because Shopify offers an omnichannel strategy through point-of-sale (POS) and various products, the company may be able to regain the Street’s confidence even while e-commerce continues to soften. Beth Kindig, Forbes, 6 May 2022 In that case, homeowners need to water in stages to soften up the ground so water can eventually seep down into the soil. Joe Lindsey, Popular Mechanics, 5 May 2022 The school board instead approved a plan on Feb. 1 to soften that cut to 42 positions for the 2022-23 school year to avoid laying teachers off. Connor Sanders, The Salt Lake Tribune, 4 May 2022 Le Pen, 53, has sought to soften her rhetoric and image as the leader of the far-right French political party National Rally. Mary Bruce, ABC News, 24 Apr. 2022 The car is also equipped with an adaptive air suspension to soften any bumps in the road. Bryan Hood, Robb Report, 20 Apr. 2022 But that would likely require the British government to soften its stance or require a quick resolution of the war in Ukraine’s favor, both of which seem highly unlikely. New York Times, 20 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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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Dictionary Entries Near soften

soft drink


softening point

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Statistics for soften

Last Updated

10 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Soften.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for soften


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

More from Merriam-Webster on soften

Nglish: Translation of soften for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of soften for Arabic Speakers


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