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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. © 2015 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 ?
SNP leader Alex Salmond, reeling from claims that he is soft-pedalling his party's independence policy, attempted to come out fighting.
THE threat of relegation may have dissipated but Shepshed Dynamo's new manager, John Hanna, has pledged: There will be no soft-pedalling on the run-in.
With the state government and TMC leader Mamata Banerjee soft-pedalling on the violence, Karat's reaction appeared justified.
"ATS is soft-pedalling" its probe against Muslim organisations such as the Students Islamic Movement of India, says the PIL, and claims its investigation is therefore likely to be "doubtful".
Back in the real world, I notice Hattie is easing herself into power as party chairman by soft-pedalling hostility to the Iraq war and the pounds 20billion Trident replacement.
But, although Swinney is soft-pedalling, the bottom line for the Nats is always the same - full independence.
But if you think this is some soft-pedalling 1999 version of Uncle Tom's Cabin, a sort of Harriet Beecher Stowe on speed, a cursory glance at the first page will put paid to that idea.
Mr Byers was under even more pressure yesterday when the Commission for Integrated Transport accused him of "soft-pedalling" on measures to improve the transport infrastructure.