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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web The mayor’s office edited reports and testimony to soften criticism of the NYPD and roll back proposals for more effective oversight. Eric Umansky, ProPublica, 11 June 2021 Infused with Tatcha's beloved Hadasei-3, the formula helps reduce signs of aging, soften skin and support cell turnover resulting in luminous (read: younger-looking) skin. Jennifer Ford, Forbes, 8 June 2021 Microscopic analysis of the bone shows the carvings are very deep, which suggests it was boiled to soften it before carving. Tom Metcalfe, NBC News, 5 July 2021 But the government’s stance appeared to soften on Saturday, after Taran spoke with female military cadets and the ministry released a statement acknowledging that the heels were inconvenient. Washington Post, 2 July 2021 The black-and-white interior color scheme gives the home exceptional contrast, leaving the interior designer plenty of opportunity to use different colors and textures to soften it up, said a company spokesperson. Dallas News, 6 June 2021 The Biden administration seems of the view that a more conciliatory approach to Beijing won’t soften the Chinese regime. Washington Post, 25 June 2021 Add tomatoes and chiles, and cook until tomatoes soften, 3–4 minutes. Asma Khan, WSJ, 25 June 2021 Made from 100% cotton with a 600-thread count, they’re designed to withstand frequent washes without shrinking, and will soften over time. Vanessa Spilios, Forbes, 22 June 2021

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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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

21 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Soften.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Jul. 2021.

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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 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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