soften(redirected from softening)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
Related to softening: Water softening, softening point
soften one's stance (on someone or something)
Fig. to reduce the severity of one's position regarding someone or something. If he would soften his stance on the matter, I could easily become more cooperative.
See also: soften
soften someone up
Fig. to prepare to persuade someone of something. I will talk to Fred and soften him up for your request. I will soften up your father before you ask him about it.
soften something up
to take actions that will make something softer. soften the butter up before you add it to the batter. Please soften up the ice cream before you try to serve it.
1. Lit. [for something] to become softer. The butter softened up in the heat of the day. The candles will probably soften up and bend over in this hot weather.
2. Fig. [for someone] to adopt a more gentle manner. After a while, she softened up and was more friendly. It was weeks before Ted softened up and treated us more kindly.
soften the blowalso cushion the blow
to make a difficult experience less unpleasant Special relief funds have been set aside to soften the blow to families that lost someone in the disaster.
cushion the blow
to do something that reduces harm The way to cushion the blow is to raise prices slowly, not all at once.
Etymology: from the idea of making the force of one thing hitting another less damaging by surrounding it with something soft
soften the blow
to make something unpleasant easier to accept Although tuition rates are going up, more scholarships will be available to soften the blow. Not only were they losing their jobs, but they could not count on any financial cushion to soften the blow.
soften somebody/something upalso soften up somebody/something
to weaken someone or something Constant bombing was designed to soften the enemy up and weaken him. The ads were just a way to soften up public opinion to accept a big price increase.
cushion/soften the blow
to make a difficult experience less unpleasant Free street parking is to be abolished, but residents are being offered reduced price parking permits in an attempt to cushion the blow.See strike a blow for, blow up in face, blow a hole in, blast to kingdom come, blow the lid off, blow own trumpet, blow a raspberry, blow socks off, let off steam
Reduce resistance, as in His sales motto was: a fine lunch and a few drinks often will soften up a prospective customer . This expression transfers lessening of physical hardness to lessening mental resistance. It was first used, however, in World War II, where it meant "reduce the enemy's defenses by preliminary bombing." [c. 1940]
1. To make something soft or softer: He softened up his new baseball glove with some oil. He left the butter out to soften it up.
2. To undermine or reduce the strength, morale, or resistance of someone or something: The air force softened up the enemy positions with a heavy bombing campaign. The children gave me a present to soften me up before asking for new bicycles.