soft pedal

soft pedal

noun
1.
Also called una corda pedal. a pedal, as on a piano, for reducing tonal volume.
2.
Informal. something that restrains or dampens: to put a soft pedal on one's enthusiasm.

Origin:
1920–25

Dictionary.com Unabridged

soft-pedal

[sawft-ped-l, soft-]
verb (used without object), soft-pedaled, soft-pedaling or (especially British) soft-pedalled, soft-pedalling.
1.
to use the soft pedal.
verb (used with object), soft-pedaled, soft-pedaling or (especially British) soft-pedalled, soft-pedalling.
2.
to soften the sound of by using the soft pedal.
3.
Informal. to tone or play down; make less strong, as an idea or fact: The dean soft-pedaled the reports of cheating.

Origin:
1915–20; v. use of noun phrase soft pedal

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Collins
World English Dictionary
soft-pedal
 
vb , (US) -als, -alling, -alled, -als, -aling, -aled
1.  to mute the tone of (a piano) by depressing the soft pedal
2.  informal to make (something, esp something unpleasant) less obvious by deliberately failing to emphasize or allude to it
 
n
3.  sustaining pedal Compare piano a foot-operated lever on a piano, the left one of two, that either moves the whole action closer to the strings so that the hammers strike with less force or causes fewer of the strings to sound

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Dictionary.com's 21st Century Lexicon
Main Entry:  soft pedal
Part of Speech:  n
Definition:  See damper pedal
Dictionary.com's 21st Century Lexicon
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Slang Dictionary

soft pedal (sth) definition


  1. tv.
    to play something down; to de-emphasize something. (Refers to the soft pedal on the piano.) : Try to soft pedal the problems we have with the cooling system.
Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions by Richard A. Spears.Fourth Edition.
Copyright 2007. Published by McGraw-Hill Education.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

soft pedal

Something that de-emphasizes, restrains, or plays down, as in The mayor put a soft pedal on this potentially explosive situation. This expression alludes to the una corda or soft pedal of the piano, which reduces the volume of the sound. It gave rise to the verb soft-pedal, meaning both "reduce the volume of" or "make less emphatic, downplay." [Early 1900s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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