soften up

phrasal verb
Updated on: 15 Nov 2017

Definition of soften up

1 : to treat (someone) very well or kindly in order to make that person more likely to help one, give one something, etc.
  • He tried to soften her up by buying her flowers.
2 : to weaken (an enemy) through military attacks
  • They used artillery to soften up the enemy's defenses before launching a full-scale attack.

Word by Word Definitions

soften play
  1. : to make soft or softer

  2. : to weaken the military resistance or the morale of especially by harassment (such as preliminary bombardment)

  3. : to impair the strength or resistance of

up play
  1. : in or into a higher position or level

  2. : from beneath the ground or water to the surface

  3. : from below the horizon

  1. : risen above the horizon

  2. : standing

  3. : being out of bed

  1. used as a function word to indicate motion to or toward or situation at a higher point of

  2. : up into or in the

  3. : in a direction regarded as being toward or near the upper end or part of

  1. : one in a high or advantageous position

  2. : an upward slope

  3. : a period or state of prosperity or success

  1. : to rise from a lying or sitting position

  2. : to move upward : ascend

  3. used with and and another verb to indicate that the action of the following verb was either surprisingly or abruptly initiated


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