Definition of soften in English:



  • 1Make or become soft or softer.

    [with object] ‘plant extracts to soften and moisturize the skin’
    [no object] ‘let the vegetables soften over a low heat’
    • ‘If you are using leaf gelatin, put the sheets in cold water to soften.’
    • ‘If the chocolate starts to firm, soften over the heated water again.’
    • ‘Let stand until softened; then remove with a cloth dampened with boiled linseed oil.’
    • ‘Add onion, ginger and garlic and stir until onion is softened using low to medium heat.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, he'll dip the bun in water, letting it soften before consuming it.’
    • ‘While the fruit is softening, boil up the pips to extract their pectin, and strain their juice into the pan while still hot (it will turn to jelly if allowed to cool).’
    • ‘Sodium hydroxide is a caustic type of chemical that actually softens hair fibers.’
    • ‘Put the butter in a large pan on a low heat and soften any vegetables you decided to toss in.’
    • ‘Cooking softens the hemicellulose of vegetables, allowing the nutrients that are present in the food to be more accessible for digestion.’
    • ‘These are products which can prevent drying of the skin, thereby moisturizing and softening the skin.’
    • ‘Soak these leaves for five minutes in hot water to soften them.’
    • ‘Watch it carefully to see when it begins to soften, then immediately remove the heat and scrape the adhesive off with a putty knife.’
    • ‘Set aside for 10 minutes for the flavours to marry and the vegetables to soften.’
    • ‘When the oil is hot, add the carrot and onion and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes.’
    • ‘If you are not satisfied with some part of the product, you only need to sprinkle a little water to soften the clay.’
    • ‘Before planting, soak seeds overnight in warm water to soften and speed germination.’
    • ‘Apply the solution to the brick; allow it to soften paint; and remove with scraper and stiff bristle brush.’
    • ‘The industry was a major contributor to the city's wealth, with whale oil mixed with water being used to soften jute so it could be woven.’
    • ‘When the vegetables have softened, add all the peas and stir them well into the vegetable mix.’
    • ‘It offers a rich, creamy lather that will invigorate, moisturize and soften your hair.’
    1. 1.1[with object](of a market, currency, or commodity) fall in value.
      ‘the share price has softened recently’
      ‘rents have softened in out-of-town locations’
      ‘sales could soften if the economy turns down’
      • ‘In line with its acceptance of the international strategy for the Second UN Development Decade, the Federal Republic has drastically softened its capital loans policy.’
      • ‘The continuing appetite for such products, says Harris, should soften the economic impact of the current sharp drop in business-technology investment.’
      • ‘Many cities with a high proportion of college graduates also have expensive homes, even with the softening real estate market.’
      • ‘Crawshaw believes these investors are prepared to ride out a softening market.’
      • ‘We, along with the rest of the industry, experienced a decline in higher-yielding business travel due to the impact of the softening U.S. economy.’
      • ‘However, house prices will not keep rising by 20 % a year, and have already begun to soften.’
      • ‘Member countries cannot revert to tax cuts or fiscal easing to soften the impact of the strong euro on their big exporters.’
      • ‘Owners of gold in any form might consider buying a quantity of short funds to soften the tremendous volatility of gold.’
      • ‘We require investors to prove the reliability of their rental income as some rental incomes have softened in areas where we have seen numerous developments.’
      • ‘Retail sales in Australia have softened off a bit, and that was evident in the most recent figures released for July today.’
  • 2Make or become less severe.

    [with object] ‘a major injection of private cash could soften the blow for the taxpayer’
    [no object] ‘her expression softened at the sight of Diane's white face’
    • ‘His expression softened and his hand was still extended to her, ‘My name's Adam.’’
    • ‘Louis turned around swiftly, his hard dangerous expression softening slightly at her poor sight.’
    • ‘Christopher turned away and ascended the stairs, his expression softening to a different smile as the door opened to reveal Sara's bright face and slender form.’
    • ‘These interviews make a powerful case that we need to soften the blows that often come with economic changes, even if such changes are inevitable.’
    • ‘However, at his crestfallen expression, her eyes softened.’
    • ‘‘We couldn't leave,’ explained Taiyo, her voice softening and her expression falling.’
    • ‘He immediately looked up from his maps, his expression softening as he looked up at her.’
    • ‘Better to wait until bubbles burst and manage the consequences, softening the economic blow by loosening monetary policy very quickly.’
    • ‘Her expression immediately softened at the sight of me but turned hard once more after spotting the Old English sheepdog.’
    • ‘Something sharp and dangerous transformed his face, his expression going from that of a parent trying to soften a blow to a dark anger.’
    • ‘Upon seeing Aerin's face, his own expression and tone softened.’
    • ‘He also looked exceedingly miserable, an expression which softened only in the slightest at the sight of the coffee.’
    • ‘Jessica's stony expression softens and she stares at the ground for a moment.’
    • ‘The expression on his face softened as he watched her.’
    • ‘Maura's expression softened as she leaned closer to him.’
    • ‘When you think loving thoughts your expression softens and your baby will notice your loving looks.’
    • ‘Harriette's expression of resolve softened, and she reached out and cupped Marguerite's chin in a motherly fashion.’
    • ‘Then she looked back to Christopher, her expression softening.’
    • ‘The combination lets people have it both ways: The foam keeps the cushion upright and helps it hold its shape, while the down makes a comfortable seat and softens the severe line of the foam.’
    • ‘Mack admitted, his face softening into a vulnerable expression.’
    die down, abate, subside, moderate, let up, calm down, lessen, grow less, decrease, diminish, slacken, dwindle, weaken
    alleviate, ease, relieve, soothe, take the edge off, assuage, allay, dull, cushion, lessen, moderate, temper, mitigate, palliate, diminish, decrease, blunt, deaden, abate, tone down
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1[with object]Undermine the resistance of (someone)
      ‘the blockade appears a better weapon with which to soften them up for eventual surrender’
      • ‘Only his tears, his breakdown, had softened his mother, who had spoken to his father.’
      • ‘Amy's gaze and touch seemed to be successful in softening David.’
      • ‘If writing to ask for extra money, he would sometimes include a mathematical theorem for possible use in exams to soften his father up.’
      • ‘This will soften Garcia without making him feel threatened.’
      • ‘He realizes that his leave has softened him, and that he is about to fall apart.’
      • ‘The bombing raid we were victims of was just to soften us up.’
      • ‘We're hoping that maybe you can soften him just enough that he will tell us at least something of what we need to know.’
      • ‘You will not soften us up by telling us the problems.’
      • ‘He has softened him up and now he moves to place his Knight on a better square.’
      • ‘Affection for my sister softened me and my shoulders slumped.’
      • ‘These folks are his friends, after all; they'll heed his call, possibly after he's softened them up with flattery.’
      • ‘I have a feeling they will try and soften us up with artillery before they attack again.’
      • ‘Except I do want to point out that she's fallen for him, and when one does that, it softens the person, you know?’
      • ‘After softening you up, they drag you en masse to the door.’
      • ‘Think, too, about how a peaceful gesture in the midst of a time of conflict can help defuse tension and soften someone's heart.’
      • ‘After a few glasses of wine to soften him up, she began her pitch.’
      • ‘He simply figured their time apart had softened her a little.’
      • ‘Despite his ill temper, however, every day that he spends in the calm atmosphere of the peaceful village seems to soften him.’
      • ‘It's like reverse psychology - soften the opponent up on defense and you'll distract him from doing what he wants on offense.’
      • ‘This altruism softened the character enough to make him watchable, but he remained someone you would never wish to meet.’
      weaken, undermine someone's resistance, reduce someone's defensive capability
      View synonyms
  • 3[with object] Remove mineral salts from (water).

    • ‘Observations have shown increased copper levels in water softened with ion exchange water softeners.’
    • ‘Some consumers are concerned that drinking softened water will increase the level of sodium in their diet.’
    • ‘We decided to only soften the water that would be heated, since there were no other quality issues with hardness in the cold tap water.’
    • ‘The higher the concentration of these minerals, the more sodium needed to soften the water.’
    • ‘Hard water can be softened using an ion exchange softening process.’
    • ‘The most common way to soften household water is to use a water softener.’
    • ‘This softens the water a little and is fine because of the tap water I have.’
    • ‘The vinegar in this formula will help to remove stains, odors and soften the water.’
    • ‘But what you should try and find out about is what kind of agents have been added to harden or soften the tap water, as it affects the taste.’
    • ‘To soften the water, the maid Kikuno would enter the tub first to ‘massage or knead the water’.’
    • ‘Water softeners are sometimes a hidden source of sodium in your water at home - although cold water often isn't softened.’
    • ‘Hard water can be softened with the addition of a handful of washing soda (available from supermarkets) to the wash and rinse cycles.’