soft pedal

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soft pedal

That which dampens, diminishes, or downplays the importance or impact of something. Hyphenated if used before a noun as a modifier. It's unsurprising to me that the board decided to apply a soft pedal to our plans for expansion, giving the recent uncertainty in the market. The president's plan has been criticized as a soft-pedal approach to dealing with the potential of nuclear weapons in an already turbulent region.
See also: pedal, soft

soft pedal

Something that de-emphasizes, restrains, or plays down, as in The mayor put a soft pedal on this potentially explosive situation. This expression alludes to the una corda or soft pedal of the piano, which reduces the volume of the sound. It gave rise to the verb soft-pedal, meaning both "reduce the volume of" or "make less emphatic, downplay." [Early 1900s]
See also: pedal, soft