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Related to softening: Water softening, softening point

soften (one's or someone's) stance (on something)

1. To become less severe, strict, or inflexible in one's position or beliefs (regarding something). Our dad always said he would never let us have our own phones, but he softened his stance when my sister and I started high school. The senator has indicated that she may be softening her stance on the issue of tax reform.
2. To cause someone else to become less severe, strict, or inflexible in their position or beliefs (regarding something). I've been trying to soften the boss's stance on giving paid parental leave to all new employees. The government was originally adamant in their position on the controversial issue, but the continual protests around the country seem to be softening their stance.
See also: soften, stance

soften the blow

To make the impact of something negative 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. When you have to tell someone about the death of a loved one, there's really no way to soften the blow.
See also: blow, soften

soften the ground (for someone or something)

To create a situation in which it is easier for someone to do something or for something to happen. Pioneers like her softened the ground for women to have careers in the sciences. With their star quarterback softening the ground, they look to be on their way to another championship appearance. Everyone knows your father softened the ground for you to get into this school with his money and connections.
See also: ground, soften, someone

soften up

1. To become soft or malleable. The rubber seal softens up if the engine gets too hot, so we need to make sure to keep it cool. I keep butter in a dish on the counter so it softens up a bit.
2. To make something soft or malleable. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "soften" and "up." You need to heat the glass to high temperatures to soften it up before you can work with it. The sun softened the ground up a bit after being frozen over the winter.
3. To become less resistant or emotionally hardened; to become gentler or more amenable. My dad was a bit of a tyrant when we were kids, but he softened up as he got older. The company's upper management has been notoriously reserved about adopting more mainstream market trends, but they seem to be softening up in recent years.
4. To make someone more amenable to a suggestion or idea. Toddlers are difficult to deal with at the best of times. If you want yours to do something, sometimes softening them up with a small present or treat is the best course of action. Worried about how her mother might react to her new boyfriend, Jane asked her father to soften her up before she brought him over to dinner. I always suggest softening up potential clients with dinner at a nice restaurant.
5. To make someone less tough, focused, determined, skilled, or able-bodied. He used to be the sharpest detective in the force, but years behind a desk in the head office has softened him up. Worried about how her mother might react to her new boyfriend, Jane asked her father to soften her up before she brought him over to dinner.
See also: soften, up
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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, stance

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.
See also: soften, up

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.
See also: soften, up

soften up

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.
See also: soften, up
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

soften up

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]
See also: soften, up
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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.
See also: blow, soften
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

soften (or cushion) the blow

make it easier to cope with a difficult change or upsetting news.
See also: blow, soften
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

cushion/soften the ˈblow

make something unpleasant seem less unpleasant and easier to accept: When he lost his job he was offered a cash payment to soften the blow.
See also: blow, cushion, soften
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

soften up

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.
See also: soften, up
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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References in periodicals archive ?
Based on type, salt-free water softening systems are largely adopted as they do not possess harmful chemicals and are less expensive and more effective when it comes to purifying and supplying quality water.
There seems to be no relation between pitch level and voice softening in Sheen's reading.
in which [tau] denotes the Cauchy stress in the stress-softened material, M denotes the maximum previous strain at which the material is unloaded from the primary path, and F(m; M) is an isotropic softening function at the damage level [m.sub.max] = M on the interval m [member of] [[square root of 3], M].
Importantly, the softening of commodity prices over the past three months did not translate into a decline in either headline WPI inflation or non-food manufactured products inflation.
The objective of this study was to determine the characteristics of early softening in 'Golden' papaya and to investigate the occurrence in commercial orchards over 11 months.
Super-sloughing Salicylic Acid gets rid of rough patches and softening Shea Butter smoothes cracks.
Key statement: A method of preparing a cable comprises extruding first layer of polymeric material upon at least one insulated conductor; serving a first layer of armor wires upon the polymeric material; softening the polymeric material to partially embed armor wires; extruding a second layer of polymeric material over the armor wires; serving a second layer outer armor wires thereupon; softening the polymeric material to partially embed the second armor wire layer; and optionally extruding a third layer of polymeric material over the outer armor wires embedded in the second layer of polymeric material.
has recently extended its Softsoap brand with what it bills as a beauty breakthrough: Softsoap Nutri Serums body wash, the first body wash to be infused with nutrient-rich softening serum pearls.
They immersed one half of the specimens in a sports drink, the other half in water, then compared the two halves and discovered that the one exposed to the sports drink displayed a significant amount of erosion and softening.
SOFTENING: Burt's Bee Radiance Body Lotion, pounds 10.95, softens, shimmers and moisturises plus it has Royal Jelly, Sunflower Oil and Aloe Extract to repair skin.
The resultant plots of indentation versus temperature or time can be used to characterize coatings by measuring softening points, thermal expansion coefficients, indentation hardness, elastic modulus, and creep and its recovery.
There was actually very little preparation done before the softening. Once removed from the offal a little trimming was needed to remove connective tissues, then the still soft bladder was rinsed with fresh water inside and out before being gently blown up balloon-style, which is how most bladders you'll find for sale (retail) will be prepared.
Increasing numbers of consumers are renting as a result of being priced out of the property market, while the recent softening in house prices has caused other people to put buying somewhere on hold, further stoking demand.
NEW YORK -- The trend that has been on everyone's lips is the softening of contemporary design.