1 of 2


coaxed; coaxing; coaxes

transitive verb

: to influence or gently urge by caressing or flattering : wheedle
coaxed him into going
: to draw, gain, or persuade by means of gentle urging or flattery
unable to coax an answer out of him
coaxing consumers to buy new cars
: to manipulate with great perseverance and usually with considerable effort toward a desired state or activity
coax a fire to burn
is optimistic that stem cells can be coaxed into growing into replacement tissue for failing organs
obsolete : fondle, pet


2 of 2


co·​ax ˈkō-ˌaks How to pronounce coax (audio)

Did you know?

In days of yore, if you wanted to call someone a sap or a dupe, the word cokes was it, what you wanted, the real thing: to make a cokes of someone was to make a fool of them. This now-obsolete noun is believed to be the source of the verb coax. However, the earliest known sense of the verb, appearing in the late 16th century, was not “to make a fool of” (this meaning came later) but rather something sweeter: “to pet or caress; to treat lovingly.” As such an act of coaxing (or “cokesing”) was sometimes done for personal gain or favor, the word soon came to be used to refer to influencing or persuading people by kind acts or words. By the 19th century, the spelling cokes had fallen out of use, along with the meanings “to make a fool of” and “to treat lovingly.”

Choose the Right Synonym for coax

cajole, coax, soft-soap, blandish, wheedle mean to influence or persuade by pleasing words or actions.

cajole suggests the deliberate use of flattery to persuade in the face of reluctance or reasonable objections.

cajoled him into cheating on the final exam

coax implies gentle and persistent words or actions employed to produce a desired effect.

coaxed the cat out of the tree

soft-soap refers to using smooth and somewhat insincere talk usually for personal gain.

politicians soft-soaping eligible voters

blandish implies a more open desire to win a person over by effusive praise and affectionate actions.

legislators blandished with promises of support

wheedle suggests more strongly than cajole the use of seductive appeal or artful words in persuading.

hucksters wheedling her life's savings out of her

Examples of coax in a Sentence

Verb It took almost an hour to coax the cat down from the tree. She tried to coax a raise from her boss. He was unable to coax an answer out of her. He coaxed the fire to burn by blowing on it. The plant is difficult to coax into bloom.
Recent Examples on the Web
By opening migration processing centers in three Latin American countries, the Biden administration is trying to coax people not to make a harrowing trek to the border. Zolan Kanno-Youngs, New York Times, 21 Sep. 2023 Brother Eric was a white man who claimed to be a convert to Islam, and Minhaj said Brother Eric attempted to coax the men at the mosque to talk about jihad. Emily St. Martin, Los Angeles Times, 15 Sep. 2023 Last month, Fox TV host Sean Hannity tried to coax the governor into discussing a possible 2024 presidential run. George Skelton, Los Angeles Times, 14 Sep. 2023 Most crucial to the movie’s effectiveness is the director’s success in coaxing rich, nuanced, utterly unselfish performances from three starry headliners with distinct styles of acting. Jon Frosch, The Hollywood Reporter, 9 Sep. 2023 The second option is to give those annual plantings a big old haircut, a good dose of fertilizer, and coax them back not productivity. Paul Cappiello, The Courier-Journal, 8 Sep. 2023 Gio Paez and others coaxed Cole Snyder to throw the ball away and set up a punt. Jr Radcliffe, Journal Sentinel, 2 Sep. 2023 Maybe the prospects of the Fighting Irish in the house one day will even coax ‘em in from the Boulevard. Kevin Sherrington, Dallas News, 1 Sep. 2023 Some animals need to be coaxed to step onto the scales or to stand up to be measured. Teresa Nowakowski, Smithsonian Magazine, 31 Aug. 2023
This means existing household coax installations, which generally make use of only a single cable running to each connected room, won't be of much use. John Herrman, Popular Mechanics, 1 Apr. 2021 Start with your internet modem, the device that most likely has a coax cable connecting it to your wall. Frank Bajak, USA TODAY, 20 Mar. 2020 The Internet service provider terminated their coax in a small closet off the entry hall. Jim Salter, Ars Technica, 8 Jan. 2020 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'coax.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



earlier cokes, from cokes simpleton

First Known Use


1581, in the meaning defined at sense 4


1945, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of coax was in 1581


Dictionary Entries Near coax

Cite this Entry

“Coax.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


: to influence by gentle urging, special attention, or flattering
: to get or win by means of gentle urging or flattery
coaxed a raise from the boss

More from Merriam-Webster on coax

Last Updated: - Updated Did you know?
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!