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

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Other Words from soften

softener \ ˈsȯ-​fə-​nər How to pronounce softener (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

But a series of decisions by Netanyahu's government has begun to soften that support. Josef Federman, Fox News, "Israeli questioning of US Jews at border expose deeper rift," 19 Aug. 2018 And under the leadership of Sundar Pichai, Google seems to be softening its hardline stance. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Google employees demand that Google stop work on censored Chinese search," 27 Nov. 2018 Some analysts said peace may have softened the stance of many Colombians against ex-rebels, allowing a former guerrilla to make headway. New York Times, "Iván Duque, a Young Populist, Is Elected Colombia’s President," 17 June 2018 While Wagner has recently tried to soften his combative tone, his appearance with Pence would reinforce his links to Trump. Jonathan Tamari,, "Pence, Wagner to visit Philly for GOP fund-raiser next week," 13 June 2018 According to newspaper La Repubblica, the push to soften the stance on the euro came from Five Star. John Follain,, "Italy Populists Say Government Talks Entering Final Stretch," 16 May 2018 But when their resolution went before the supervisors’ Land Use and Transportation Committee Monday, Chairwoman Katy Tang, a moderate, persuaded Peskin to soften his stance. Rachel Swan, San Francisco Chronicle, "SF supervisors opposed to Wiener’s housing-transit bill soften stance a bit," 12 Mar. 2018 There are masculine silhouettes and men’s tailoring in the debut collection, but those items are cinched at the waist with a garment of Castiglioni’s invention and softened by bright colors. Erik Maza, Town & Country, "Plan C, the New Label From the Family Behind Marni, Is the Coolest Thing to Come out of Milan," 27 Feb. 2019 The earthy, grassy taste of the tea was softened by the buttercream separating each layer. Lauren Delgado,, "Urban Hibachi Sushi & Grill plates up elegant Japanese fare," 30 June 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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Statistics for soften

Last Updated

20 May 2019

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Time Traveler for soften

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

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on soften

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with soften

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for soften

Spanish Central: Translation of soften

Nglish: Translation of soften for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of soften for Arabic Speakers

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).


a sum of money that is sent as a payment

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