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[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
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Santa Fina and her flowers could not soften or bring peace to his galled soul.

    Halcyone Elinor Glyn
  • "I'll put a rubber bit in his mouth, to soften it," he pumped brokenly.

    Thoroughbreds W. A. Fraser
  • Their enjoyment of power had made them soften some of the prejudices learnt in days of depression.

    Swift Leslie Stephen
  • At first indeed he had hoped to soften Benedetta, and throw her into Luigi's arms.

  • The king soon recognized the author of the music, and his resentment against Handel began to soften.

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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