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Collins

soften up

  
  
conciliate, disarm, melt, soft-soap     (informal)   weaken, win over, work on  
English Collins Dictionary - English synonyms & Thesaurus  
Collins

soften

  
  ( softens    3rd person present)   ( softening    present participle)   ( softened    past tense & past participle  )
1       verb   If you soften something or if it softens, it becomes less hard, stiff, or firm.  
Soften the butter mixture in a small saucepan...      V n  
Fry for about 4 minutes, until the onion has softened.      V  
2       verb   If one thing softens the damaging effect of another thing, it makes the effect less severe.  
There were also pledges to soften the impact of the subsidy cuts on the poorer regions.      V n  
...He could not think how to soften the blow of what he had to tell her.      V n  
3       verb   If you soften your position, if your position softens, or if you soften, you become more sympathetic and less hostile or critical towards someone or something.,   (Antonym: harden)    The letter shows no sign that the Americans have softened their position...      V n  
His party's policy has softened a lot in recent years...      V  
Livy felt herself soften towards Caroline.      V  
4       verb   If your voice or expression softens or if you soften it, it becomes much more gentle and friendly.  
All at once, Mick's serious expression softened into a grin...      V  
She did not smile or soften her voice.      V n  
5       verb   If you soften something such as light, a colour, or a sound, you make it less bright or harsh.  
Stark concrete walls have been softened by a show of fresh flowers.      V n  
6       verb   Something that softens your skin makes it very smooth and pleasant to touch.  
...products designed to moisturize and soften the skin.      V n   soften up             phrasal verb   If you soften someone up, you put them into a good mood before asking them to do something.  
INFORMAL  
(=butter up)  

If they'd treated you well it was just to soften you up.      V n P, Also V P n (not pron)  

Translation English Cobuild Collins Dictionary  

See also:

soften, soften, soft, soft pedal

Collaborative Dictionary     English Thesaurus
v.
to cover with a thin layer of paint applied with a dry brush in order to soften or blur a figure or outline
an art term
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