9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[saw-fuh n, sof-uh n] /ˈsɔ fən, ˈsɒf ən/
verb (used with object)
to make soft or softer.
verb (used without object)
to become soft or softer.
Origin of soften
1325-75; Middle English; see soft, -en1
Related forms
oversoften, verb
resoften, verb
unsoftening, adjective
1. melt; mollify, mitigate, soothe, alleviate, calm, quiet, ease.
1, 2. harden. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for soften
  • When it's time to relax in a bubble bath, they are certain to soften and soothe you in all the right places.
  • The cushion will trim returns in normal times, but soften any declines and give you means to buy on a terrorism-related dip.
  • We all know people who change their tune later in life, soften or change their stand on issues or ideas.
  • The crust will seem crisp when it first comes out, then soften immediately, but will crisp back up as it cools.
  • Even one-on-one he was able to soften his approach through body language and facial expressions.
  • Of course, metals such as steel tend to soften when exposed to high temperatures-and that can cause parts to wear out prematurely.
  • While other companies use ammonia in their permanent hair dyes, some have created formulas to soften the hair coloring experience.
  • soften the bottom of the candle with a match, so that the wax begins to drip into the box, and place it inside the box.
  • Booking a politician on a comedy show is another way to soften his image.
  • Even as our bones and teeth soften, the rest of our body hardens.
British Dictionary definitions for soften


to make or become soft or softer
to make or become gentler
(intransitive) (commerce)
  1. (of demand, a market, etc) to weaken
  2. (of a price) to fall
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for soften

late 14c., "to mitigate, diminish" (transitive), from soft (adj.) + -en (1). Meaning "to make physically soft" is from 1520s; intransitive sense of "to become softer" is attested from 1610s. Soften up in military sense of "weaken defenses" is from 1940. Related: Softened; softening.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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