let down easy

let (one) down easy

To deliver bad news to one in the kindest or least upsetting way possible. When you tell Ed that somebody already asked you to the dance, please let him down easy. I tried to let Susan down easy, but she burst into tears nonetheless.
See also: down, easy, let
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

let down easy

see under let someone down.
See also: down, easy, let
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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References in classic literature ?
You know I'm not the chap to be let down easy. We'll go through with it, then, and take all chances!
It was almost as if they expected to be let down easy. So I guess you can't win either way.