break it (to someone) gently, to

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break it (to someone) gently, to

To reveal bad news in a calm, soothing fashion. “With a design to break the matter gently to his partners,” wrote John Arbuthnot in 1712. In time the verb to break in the sense of “to tell” incorporated the idea of “gently,” making the cliché a tautology.
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The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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References in periodicals archive ?
But someone should break it gently to him that his most recent career move may not have been a wise one - he's signed up to get a grilling from Ronna and Beverly.