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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.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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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
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."
However, it soft-pedals Diana's wildly contradictory nature.
Although he has been a public advocate of privatisation to reduce the state's 50% share of Russia's $1.8 trillion economy, he has soft-pedaled on plans to sell off a minority stake in Russia's largest bank, Sberbank.
The radical Sunni Muslim core of Hamas has happily soft-pedaled its Sunni orientation to receive funding and support from Shi'a Iran and the Alawite regime in Syria.
Providing a glimpse of everyday life, as well as a soft-pedaled ecological message, pic lacks narrative heft, and commercial prospects are as slight as the storytelling.
First saying that the 2009 stimulus package "will accelerate the timing of the start of the recovery, but not as much as it could have," Romney's book now declares stimulus simply "a failure." His formerly soft-pedaled chapter on healthcare has picked up a new commitment to federalism--"Obamacare is an unconstitutional federal incursion into the rights of states," this year's model declares.
Outside of a report in Crain's Chicago Business and a soft-pedaled article in a small trade publication, the media has entirely ignored the demise of the effort at carbon trading.
"Jewish organizations, instead of trying to promote the idea of taking care of the Jewish people, have soft-pedaled this idea, perhaps because they know their market and they know what will sell," he said.
I was especially interested in your account of the mistakes you made in your first year, when you "soft-pedaled the magazine's politics" and your pages "were filled with pieces about backpacking and cooking." When my wife suggested that we subscribe, I was skeptical, because I hadn't looked at Mother Jones closely since then, and I remember being disgusted, as a West Virginia native, that you were using a great hero's name to sell all that lifestyle piffle.