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soft-pedal (something)

To dampen, diminish, or downplay the importance or impact of something. An allusion to the dampening effects of a piano's soft pedal. You really need to soft-pedal your rhetoric if you want to win over enough mainstream voters to get re-elected. The university has been soft-pedaling its association with the controversial activist in recent months.

soft-pedal something

to play something down; to de-emphasize something. (Alludes to the soft pedal on the piano, which reduces the volume.) Try to soft-pedal the problems we have with the cooling system. I won't soft-pedal anything. Everyone must know the truth.
References in periodicals archive ?
Scott Parker is typical of too many modern players; Alan Curbishley provided an example of good, firm management at a time when too many managers have to soft-pedal in case they incur a sullen attitude from players; Paul Hart, a solid football citizen, faces the sack while his injured players recuperate in Lanzarote
So, for example, trade-union activists who are unable to win rank-and-file workers over to their "revolutionary" programs will apologize for Farrakhan and the protofascist militia movement, soft-pedal opposition to sexism and homophobia, support tax-cut politics, and retreat from support for reproductive freedom and aggressive policy intervention to promote racial and gender equality.
Enough teachers already seem to soft-pedal the homosexual lifestyle, to make any program with the slightest ambiguity a further danger to both student and teacher.
How much longer can leftists look the other way while West prattles on about "collective clinical depression," rampant "nihilism," and calls for a "politics of conversion" and a "love ethic" Even after watching him strain to defend the Million Man March's patriarchal foundation and soft-pedal Farrakhan's fascist politics?
Sometimes you may feel that in the interest of credibility it is better to soft-pedal the adjectives.
Presumably, a lower rating would have led to criticism that the network was trying to soft-pedal the graphic violence in "Brooklyn South.
The game takes on even greater significance because of United boss Alex Ferguson's controversial comments over whether Pearce would soft-pedal because Newcastle provide the opposition in his benefit game next week.
He plays Solomon with a powerful inner strength, yet he never soft-pedals the silent nightmare that is Solomon's daily existence.