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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 ?
But for the most part the opposition campaigns soft-pedaled green concerns and concentrated on a pocketbook message: This measure will raise taxes and increase bureaucracy.
If these two goals sound contradictory, that's because they are, and too often, the instinct to help the airlines--or, in the soft-pedaled jargon of the beltway, to "be sensitive to their concerns"--has softened the FAA's resolve to protect safety.
"I probably should have known," she explained, "but I wasn't watching the talk shows." (Bill thought homosexuality was something Eddie had caught at ballet class, like the flu.) A more partisan biographer would have soft-pedaled Stierle's voracious desire for the spotlight, which was as infuriating around the family dinner table as it was among the senior Joffrey males, whose roles he sought (and got).
But we thought readers were not as "radical" as we, so we soft-pedaled the magazine's politics.
Believe-it-or-not aspects are soft-pedaled by filmmaker's cautious p.o.v.
Koizumi, who is also facing under pressure from within the ruling coalition as well as the opposition camp the to call off the visit, has recently soft-pedaled on his vow to pay homage at Yasukuni on Aug.
Yet most of the wall drawings of the last two decades, with their luscious surfaces and subtly soft-pedaled colors (not to mention the elaborate ink-wash technique), are too skilled and tasteful to allow for such comic relish, and my guess is that, given the contradictions in his work and practice, LeWitt often feels ambivalent about his late artiness.
Even after the leaders of the AFL-CIO spent scads of millions of dollars and, worse, soft-pedaled criticism of Clinton's many betrayals to ensure his reelection, he repaid them by nominating as Secretary of Labor a party operative with no history of connection to the labor movement, who lists working to pass NAFTA and the hideous crime bill as her big accomplishments of Clinton Administration I.
Corrigan reacted quickly to promote Gavrielov to EVP of LSI's products group, and soft-pedaled the impact of Halla's departure.
In a bid to win the support of middle-of-the-road voters and to placate China, Chen soft-pedaled on his advocacy of Taiwanese independence, which he used as a plank in his election campaign platform.