Definition of softness in US English:



  • 1The quality of being easy to mold, cut, compress, or fold.

    ‘I snuggled deeper into the warm softness of my bed’
    ‘the hardness of the steel contrasted with the softness of the wax’
    • ‘Its softness and pliability are part of the charm of taffy.’
    • ‘Different types of foam are often used in combination, layered for their various properties of softness, even support.’
    • ‘The major drawback of plaster of Paris is its softness even after drying.’
    • ‘Additional sugar may increase dough softness.’
    • ‘When purchasing clay, feel different packages of the same colour to compare the softness of the clay.’
    1. 1.1 The quality of having a smooth surface or texture; lack of roughness.
      ‘the velvet softness of the fur’
      ‘I noticed an improvement in the softness of my hair and skin’
      • ‘He achieves a nice colour and softness of the beard by colouring it often in the bath with reng and henna.’
      • ‘The wool fibre contributes softness, warmth, absorbency, and drapability.’
      • ‘To preserve their softness, flannels should be washed in tepid suds, rinsed in tepid water, and dried rapidly at a moderate heat.’
      • ‘The sensuousness of this piece is heightened by the softness and translucency of the polished stone.’
      • ‘I enjoyed holding that kitten, petting her back and putting her softness near my cheek.’
    2. 1.2 Lack of courage; weakness.
      ‘his mother upbraided him for his softness’
      • ‘If there were no courage, the moderate person would not resist any temptation and moderation would be softness.’
      • ‘Endurance and softness are mentioned in connection with courage and cowardice in order to distinguish them.’
      • ‘Despite his strong self-contempt for any real or imagined trace of his own softness, no one shows his sorrow so openly or strongly as he.’
      • ‘This is a debate about softness and mollycoddling, not about learning or teaching.’
      • ‘Philo is careful in his descriptions to distance the courageous from any association with softness.’
    3. 1.3 The tendency of a market, currency, or commodity to fall in value.
      ‘pressure on businesses due to continued softness in the global equity markets’
      ‘sales suffered from softness’
      • ‘The market has been hurt by the departure of defense and aerospace tenants and also by softness in the adjacent West Los Angeles market.’
      • ‘In order to characterize empirically the currency softness, we employ two different approaches.’
      • ‘There has been a softness in non-residential construction, but not a decrease in the intensity of the use of standard pipe in non-residential construction.’
      • ‘Employers set wages above the market equilibrium level to increase employee productivity, reduce production softness, and cut the costs associated with labour turnover.’
      • ‘The world has moved out of that period of shortages into a period of surpluses in some commodities and softness in other commodities.’
  • 2A subtle effect or contrast; lack of sharp definition.

    ‘a general softness of focus’
    ‘the graininess and softness of the picture are the primary flaws’
    • ‘Using this tool, you can apply a negative amount of blur, which adds softness from the current edge of the matte inward.’
    • ‘In pictorial work, all definition must be soft, or must, by the use of flat lighting, have the appearance of softness.’
    • ‘Turner employed washing out to gain extraordinary softness and appearance of distance and atmosphere in his watercolours.’
    • ‘Control ranges from critical sharpness to hazy softness and is adjusted by using a ring on the lens barrel.’
    • ‘Different lenses and different filters can produce different degrees of softness.’
    1. 2.1 The quality of a sound being quiet and gentle.
      ‘the softness of her voice mesmerized him’
      • ‘These pieces are characterized by the softness of the music and the deep emotions of the lyrics.’
      • ‘Every tone of the violin, even the strongest attack, has a small, even if barely audible, softness at the beginning of the stroke.’
      • ‘The strength of the percussion is a principal cause of the loudness or softness of sounds.’
      • ‘Let the other speak below, keeping the same proportion of softness.’
      • ‘She hears the saxophone's softness purring through the fog.’
    2. 2.2 The quality of being mild, gentle, or tender; lack of force.
      ‘the softness of the breeze’
      ‘the softness of her touch on his hands’
      • ‘Love is tender rain falling in silent softness!’
      • ‘The strength and roughness of his hands contrasted sharply with the softness of his caress.’
      • ‘In person he was liberal, magnificent, and of a captivating softness and elegance of manners.’
      • ‘The south wind blows from the sea, from whence it acquires a humid warmth and softness.’
      • ‘To youth the evening is delightful—it accords with the flow of his light spirits, the fervor of his fancy, and the softness of his heart.’
  • 3The quality of being sympathetic, lenient, or compassionate.

    ‘he recommended conciliation and softness towards national minorities’
    ‘some lacked softness of heart’
    • ‘One imagines that, given the harshness of retribution and the softness of positivistic welfare, that the latter would lead to a more lenient penality.’
    • ‘As a presidential candidate, he paid for his perceived softness on crime.’
    • ‘The main criticism of Woodrow Wilson in the spring of 1919 was based upon his alleged softness towards Germany.’
    • ‘By the standards of the First World War, he was lenient in his punishments, and was rebuked by his commander for his softness in this respect.’
    • ‘Some in the film industry criticized the committee's softness regarding these domestically made films.’
    1. 3.1 Lack of harshness or anger in words or language; mildness.
      ‘the softness of the words were not lost on him’
      • ‘Some news anchors have an aggressive body language, while for some softness is a virtue while anchoring.’
      • ‘“I'm not trying to force you,” he crooned, but belied the softness with a frown.’
      • ‘Be direct by using softness and gentleness when you communicate with your family.’
      • ‘The choice of words, the degree of abruptness, formality, friendliness, and softness all may have ethical dimensions.’
      • ‘They are remarkable for vigorous conceptions and strong feelings, which they express with very little attention to softness and suavity of language.’
  • 4The degree to which water is free from mineral salts that make lathering difficult.

    ‘a glass-care program regulates the water softness’
    • ‘It can gently flow or crash, dissolving the hardest substances through its softness.’
    • ‘One property of the water of the Murray is the remarkably low quantity of saline matter in solution, and its softness.’
    • ‘Why does water softness affect the lead solvency of water supplies?’
    • ‘As to purity and softness, the water was unparalleled.’
    • ‘Water in these towns had the same softness as the water of Loch Katrine.’