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 upsoften 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 Careful mathematical reasoning is required to exit each battlefield, and the clever design is softened by Ward’s whimsy. Simon Parkin, The New Yorker, "The Best Video Games of 2019," 17 Dec. 2019 Anchoring an otherwise ethereal ethos, a color-changing LED tube is suspended at waist height, like a neon ballet barre at the back of the space softened by three gauzy scrims used to dilute and ever-so-slightly blur the projections. Lauren Warnecke,, "Review: ‘Echo Mine’ at Harris Theater is a cathartic, sometimes hypnotic tribute to Hubbard Street dance icon Claire Bataille," 8 Dec. 2019 Updos skew romantic as well, midi-ponytails worn finger-raked and softened by loosened, face-framing sections; half-up styles pulling focus to old-world earrings and petal pink pouts. Vogue, "Why Camila Morrone Is a Breakout Beauty Star to Watch," 6 Dec. 2019 This will soften the hair and open up the follicles. Natalie Gontcharova, Good Housekeeping, "8 Mistakes You're Making When Shaving Your Legs," 27 Sep. 2019 That blow is softened by the fact that Tottenham and Manchester United are right down there with them, and while the voices of critics of those two sides are growing louder, Lampard's detractors have been muted., "Champions League Qualification Should Not Be Life or Death for Chelsea and Frank Lampard," 24 Sep. 2019 The surface was watered and rolled to a firm consistency that inevitably softened by halftime, driving opponents crazy, the mush neutralizing any advantage of speed or talent. Los Angeles Times, "Trona High’s once-mighty Sandmen fight to keep football alive in wake of earthquakes," 28 Aug. 2019 All of McIlroy’s major titles have come at courses softened by rain. Brian Costa, WSJ, "What to Watch For at the U.S. Open This Weekend," 15 June 2019 Its position softened during Barack Obama’s presidency. The Economist, "The World in 2020 It’s time for tighter goals to reduce emissions," 26 Dec. 2019

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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Statistics for soften

Last Updated

14 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Soften.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 17 January 2020.

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More Definitions for soften


How to pronounce soften (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for soften

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with soften

Spanish Central: Translation of soften

Nglish: Translation of soften for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of soften for Arabic Speakers

Comments on soften

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a plan in which a last survivor takes all

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