let (one) down easy

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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 ?
I think it's tender, because the master of the shop was a Juryman in some cases of ours the other day, and we let him down easy. I reminded him of it when I bought the fowl, and I said, "Pick us out a good one, old Briton, because if we had chosen to keep you in the box another day or two, we could easily have done it." He said to that, "Let me make you a present of the best fowl in the shop." I let him, of course.
Get over the unexpected shock, then try your hardest to let him down easy. Why would you ever risk your friendship?
Mxyzptlk, however, quickly changes when the Earth visitor decides to wreak havoc on National City after she tries to let him down easy.
I tried to let him down easy by saying that I would give him the courtesy of reading whatever he put together, but that I wouldn't count on it ever seeing the light of day on our pages.
-IF your first date is a disaster, let him down easy. Tell him an old boyfriend has reappeared and you really want to make a go of it.
Mxyzptlk, however, quickly changes when the imp decides to wreak havoc on the city after she tries to let him down easy.