Definition of soft pedal in English:

soft pedal


  • A pedal on a piano that can be pressed to make the tone softer.

    • ‘Do the greatest pianists really play with the soft pedal down almost all the time?’
    • ‘Are quick passages really easier to play with the soft pedal down?’


  • [with object] Refrain from emphasizing the more unpleasant aspects of; play down.

    ‘the administration's decision to soft-pedal the missile program’
    • ‘Indeed, I suspect that Pejman was soft-pedaling it for a conservative audience.’
    • ‘She also appeared to soft-pedal the idea that the media was at fault, saying instead that it was too early in the fraud-investigation process to blame reporters for not being more aggressive.’
    • ‘Far from soft-pedaling his Catholicism, James II celebrated mass in public, appointed Catholics to important positions, fired officials who wouldn't convert.’
    • ‘It is wrong, and we really can't soft pedal that answer.’
    • ‘And all these interests, and local authorities, want to see more investment in rail and local transport and would be upset if those parts of the study recommendations are rejected or soft-pedalled.’
    • ‘We soft-pedaled the investment in 2004, because we were still in the cleanup phase and we didn't want to confuse the investment community.’
    • ‘I wanted to soft-pedal some of her actions and thoughts, mitigate them through my adult perception and, at times, make excuses for her behavior.’
    • ‘Both sides soft-pedaled that notion, describing the session as simply an update on contract negotiations.’
    • ‘Granted, the film probably soft-pedals the details a little in order to allow for an ending that, although not exactly happy, is not completely downbeat.’
    • ‘Still, others, starting with the Government departments, are now soft pedalling.’
    • ‘In some cases - antioxidant-rich cranberry juice, for example - the health claims for nutrients actually have to be soft-pedaled, lest they trigger regulations that require foods to undergo the same approval process as drugs.’
    • ‘Any notion that the board will be disinclined to soft-pedal borderline issues which an outside committee might flag for further scrutiny based on a ‘once bitten twice shy’ basis is wishful thinking.’
    • ‘They must soft-pedal any news on inflation to keep consumers from pulling in their horns, while making sure that everyone believes that inflation is sufficiently large to warrant a new cycle of rate increases.’
    • ‘An Embassy sometimes soft-pedals a demarche when it is ordered to register a complaint but does not want to disrupt comfortable relations with the host government.’
    • ‘‘Report the news as it happens and don't try to soft-pedal everything,’ said Wally Rayl of Cheyenne, Wyo.’
    • ‘Are we done down-playing, soft-pedaling, justifying and nuancing this yet?’
    • ‘The authors convincingly demonstrate the inefficiency and arrogance of these institutions, even as they try to soft-pedal their criticisms in order to ‘stay relevant’ in the eyes of the key power brokers.’
    • ‘The gifted people Canora has gathered together needn't soft-pedal their spirit or skill.’
    • ‘They soft-pedal the news because they worry she'll take it personally, or worse - that she'll start to cry, Annis said.’
    • ‘What's remarkable, though, is that the film doesn't soft-pedal the real pain that her husband's cheating causes Mary.’
    play down, make light of, make little of, make nothing of, set little store by, set no store by, gloss over, de-emphasize, underemphasize, downplay, understate, underplay, minimize, shrug off
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soft pedal