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Related to soft soap: Hard soap
1. noun Flattering, cajoling talk meant to persuade someone, obtain something, or achieve a particular outcome. Don't let his soft soap get the better of you—he's only interested in himself. You think you can get whatever you want with a bit of soft soap, but some things in life have to be earned.
2. To persuade someone about something or persuade someone to do something, especially through the use of charm, flattery, or cajolery. Sometimes hyphenated. That weasel Mike is always trying to soft-soap the boss to get things done the way he wants. You'll never soft soap grandma, Jake—she's too shrewd for that.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
1. flattering talk; sweet talk. I don't mind a little soft soap. It won't affect what I decide, though. Don't waste my time with soft soap. I know you don't mean it.
2. (Usually soft-soap.) to attempt to convince someone (of something) by gentle persuasion. We couldn't soft-soap her into it. Don't try to soft-soap her. she's an old battle-ax.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
Flattery, cajolery, as in She's only six but she's learned how to get her way with soft soap. This colloquial expression alludes to liquid soap, likening its slippery quality to insincere flattery. Its figurative use was first recorded in 1830.
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.
soft soappersuasive flattery.
The underlying idea is of soft soap (literally a type of semi-fluid soap) being lubricative and unctuous.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
1. n. flattering talk; sweet talk. I don’t mind a little soft soap. It won’t affect what I do, though.
2. tv. to attempt to convince someone (of something) by gentle persuasion. Don’t try to soft soap her. She’s an old battle-ax.
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
Flattery. The analogy here is to a slithery, unctuous substance (which describes soft soap), and it has been drawn since the first half of the nineteenth century. “To see them flattering and soft soaping me all over,” wrote John Neal (John Beedle’s Sleigh Ride, ca. 1840). A contemporary synonym, now obsolete, was soft sawder, a substance used for soldering. It was still used in the 1940s but is seldom heard today.
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer