soften

(redirected from softens)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Legal.
Related to softens: conceded, deepens

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 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 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

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.
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

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

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

soften (or cushion) the blow

make it easier to cope with a difficult change or upsetting news.
See also: blow, soften

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

soften up

v.
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
References in periodicals archive ?
Palmers Foot Magic Cream, Superdrug Made with pure cocoa butter and formulated to soften and smooth dry skin.
95 Contains milk to soften, mango butter to moisturise, and vitamins A and E to prevent dryness after washing up.
Acetone and lacquer thinner are useful for removing paint and varnish stains on clothing made of natural fibers, but they will soften and dissolve many plastics and some synthetic fabrics.
Periodontal disease wears out most patients' patience and tolerance for pain--and it may indirectly soften their fillings as well, a new study suggests.
Restorations wear out mainly because of chewing, but if they soften, they'll degrade more easily.
Courtesy softens power and makes power acceptable to those who are to be influenced by it.
Athlete's foot: Occurs when chronic perspiration softens the outer skin and allows fungus infections to develop.
Best expects premiums to show a moderate increase in 2004, as premium rate increases in Alliance Re's markets slow down, but remains concerned about the company's long-term ability to attract profitable business as the reinsurance market softens.
The warm cookie softens the chocolate, making it easy to spread.
The machine, up to 200 feet long, heats and softens the existing asphalt with a number of infrared heaters fueled by propane gas.
The other method is to pop the whole piece into your mouth and wallow it around, sucking on the chocolate until it softens sufficiently to chew.