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 Add the bell pepper, onion and garlic and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until the vegetables soften. Robin Miller, The Arizona Republic, 15 Sep. 2022 Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften, using the edge of your spoon to help break them up a bit, about 8 minutes. G. Daniela Galarza, Washington Post, 8 Sep. 2022 Add the carrots, onion, bell pepper and water chestnuts and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until the vegetables soften. Felicia Campbell, USA TODAY, 4 Sep. 2022 Cook the remaining salsa over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the tomatoes soften and the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. San Diego Union-Tribune, 31 Aug. 2022 Add bell peppers, onion and 1 tablespoon of the seasoning mixture; cook, stirring often, until vegetables soften, 8 to 10 minutes. People Staff,, 1 Aug. 2022 Cover with plastic wrap and microwave until the onions soften, about 2½ minutes. WSJ, 26 July 2022 However, edible oil prices are expected to soften in coming months, bringing in some relief for citizens. Mimansa Verma, Quartz, 5 Aug. 2022 The microwave is your best bet to soften up your brown sugar in just a few minutes. Taylor Worden, Good Housekeeping, 21 July 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

19 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Soften.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Sep. 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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