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 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 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 Add the onion to the pan and cook, stirring, until starting to soften, about 3 minutes. Washington Post, "Loaded baked potato soup is the simple, luscious bowl of comfort I crave in colder months," 4 Jan. 2021 Well, for starters there’s a risk of burning the crust of any kind of pie that needs a long time to bake, such as a pie made with fresh slices of raw apple that take time to soften. Paul Stephen,, "Paul’s Cooking Tips: Everything you need to know about pie plates," 2 Jan. 2021 Chop onion — reserve about 2 tablespoons in a small bowl for garnishing — and add to pot along with carrot and celery; stir and cook until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Kim Sunée, Anchorage Daily News, "Give your new year an auspicious start with a warming soup full of a black-eyed peas and winter greens," 31 Dec. 2020 But along the way, her ice-cold persona appears to soften with the introduction of Bo Burnham’s character, Ryan, a new love interest. Tanya Christian, Glamour, "Promising Young Woman Is a Thrilling Movie About Protecting Your Friendships—At All Costs," 25 Dec. 2020 While still slightly damp, begin stretching the hide in all directions to break up the skin and soften it. Tim Macwelch, Outdoor Life, "The Ultimate Guide to Tanning Wild Game Pelts and Hides," 24 Dec. 2020 Trump and Mnuchin pushed, too, with the Treasury secretary working the phones to soften up skeptical Senate Republicans. Nicholas Fandos,, "A dinner, a deal and moonshine: How the stimulus came together," 22 Dec. 2020 Had a rule been finalized—as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had planned—cryptocurrency platforms and trading enthusiasts would have had little time to comply, much less to soften the requirements. Paul Kiernan, WSJ, "Some Cryptocurrency Trader Disclosure Required in Proposed Rules," 19 Dec. 2020 Add the cabbage and toss with your hands to combine, squeezing the cabbage to start to soften it. Star Tribune, "Sunday supper: Black Bean Burgers With Slaw," 18 Dec. 2020

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

10 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Soften.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Jan. 2021.

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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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