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soften the blow
To make something easier, more manageable, or less harmful. The government is introducing financial reliefs to soften the blow to those affected by the devastating floods. Playgrounds typically have sand or rubber grounds to help soften the blow if children fall off the play structures.
soften one's stance (on someone or something)
Fig. to reduce the severity of one's position regarding someone or something. If he would soften his stance on the matter, I could easily become more cooperative.
See also: soften
soften someone up
Fig. to prepare to persuade someone of something. I will talk to Fred and soften him up for your request. I will soften up your father before you ask him about it.
soften something up
to take actions that will make something softer. soften the butter up before you add it to the batter. Please soften up the ice cream before you try to serve it.
1. Lit. [for something] to become softer. The butter softened up in the heat of the day. The candles will probably soften up and bend over in this hot weather.
2. Fig. [for someone] to adopt a more gentle manner. After a while, she softened up and was more friendly. It was weeks before Ted softened up and treated us more kindly.
Reduce resistance, as in His sales motto was: a fine lunch and a few drinks often will soften up a prospective customer . This expression transfers lessening of physical hardness to lessening mental resistance. It was first used, however, in World War II, where it meant "reduce the enemy's defenses by preliminary bombing." [c. 1940]
soften the blow
COMMON If something softens the blow, it makes an unpleasant change or piece of news seem less unpleasant and easier to accept. Attempts were made to soften the blow, by reducing what some people had to pay. Note: You can also say that something cushions the blow. The firm is offering to cushion the blow with a £4,000 cash handout spread over two years.
1. To make something soft or softer: He softened up his new baseball glove with some oil. He left the butter out to soften it up.
2. To undermine or reduce the strength, morale, or resistance of someone or something: The air force softened up the enemy positions with a heavy bombing campaign. The children gave me a present to soften me up before asking for new bicycles.