From Longman Dictionary of Contemporary Englishsoftensoft‧en /ˈsɒfən $ ˈsɒː-/ ●●○ verb 1 SOFT[intransitive, transitive] (also soften up) to become less hard or rough, or make something less hard or rough OPP harden Use moisturizer to soften your skin. Cook until the onion softens.2 STRICT[intransitive, transitive] if your attitude softens, or if something softens it, it becomes less strict and more sympathetic OPP harden The government has softened its stance on public spending.soften towards I felt that he was beginning to soften towards me.3 [intransitive, transitive] to make the effect of something seem less unpleasant or severe, or to become less unpleasant or severesoften the blow/impact The impact of the tax was softened by large tax-free allowances.4 KIND[intransitive, transitive] if your expression or voice softens, or if something softens it, you look or sound kinder and more gentle OPP harden His voice softened as he spoke to her.5 [transitive] to make the shape or colour of something look less severe Climbing plants soften the outline of a fence. → soften somebody/something ↔ up→ See Verb table
Examples from the Corpussoften• Leave the butter at room temperature to soften.• Soak the raisins in warm water till they soften.• Add the shallots and cook until softened, about 1 minute.• This is why the method is often applied to soften and diffuse distant objects or hills, as in atmospheric perspective.• Choose a good moisturizer to soften and protect your skin.• The ice must be softening, and the ice fishing is close to the end.• It's a disease that softens and then destroys the bones.• The weather was perfect all the while we were there, the evenings very lovely, moonlight softened by fog.• He would not soften his uncompromising terms.• The government seems to have softened its attitude towards single parents.• Then you can soften the geometric shapes a bit.• Use the brush to soften the outline, then pencil over lips before applying lipstick.• Republicans agreed to soften their projected cuts in welfare spending.• Lawmakers have softened their stance on immigration in recent months.• The inspector looked angry but then softened when he saw the boy's frightened expression.soften the blow/impact• Factories had closed, and thousands were out of work, without unemployment insurance to soften the blow.• Help, or soften the blow.?• Or will motherhood soften the blow?• Deaver began suggesting ways to soften the impact by adding new events to the itinerary that might placate the opposition.• But you can soften the blow by telling his Dad that none of the other dads can do it either.• Try starting with a pat on the back to soften the blow of criticism.• The leader acts with greater sensitivity to soften the impact of downward power.• The Chancellor's flexibility to reduce interest rates much further, to soften the blow of tax increases, looks limited.