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From Middle English softenen, softnen, equivalent to soft +‎ -en.



soften (third-person singular simple present softens, present participle softening, simple past and past participle softened)

  1. (transitive) To make something soft or softer.
    Soften the butter before beating in the sugar.
  2. (transitive) To undermine the morale of someone (often soften up).
    Before the invasion, we softened up the enemy with the artillery.
  3. (transitive) To make less harsh
    Having second thoughts, I softened my criticism.
    • 2015 February 7, Helen Yemm, “Thorny problems: How can I soften a brick wall with plants?”, in The Daily Telegraph (London)[1], page G7:
      I have recently reclad the south-west facing side of my single-storey cottage [] . I now want to plant some climbers of more manageable proportions to soften the building.
  4. (intransitive) To become soft or softer
    The butter softened as it warmed up.

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