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soft-pedal something

to play something down; to de-emphasize something. (Alludes to the soft pedal on the piano, which reduces the volume.) Try to soft-pedal the problems we have with the cooling system. I won't soft-pedal anything. Everyone must know the truth.
References in periodicals archive ?
He has dampened the fantasy that they have an immediate future in England and has soft-pedalled the rivalry with Celtic.
Cardiff and Swansea would be at the head of the table if the friendlies were official, though it is certain that some English clubs have soft-pedalled.
While Woodward soft-pedalled, All Blacks legend Sean Fitzpatrick went into overdrive, accusing the world champions of "lacking leadership, living in the past and trying to play a game they can't play".