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soften   WordNet 2.0

- become soft or softer
"The bread will soften if you pour some liquid on it"

 
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- make soft or softer
"This liquid will soften your laundry"

 
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- lessen in force or effect
"soften a shock"
"break a fall"

 
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- make less severe or harsh
"He moderated his tone when the students burst out in tears"

 
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- protect from impact
"cushion the blow"

 
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- make (images or sounds) soft or softer

 
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- give in, as to influence or pressure

 
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Soften   Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)

1. To make soft or more soft. Specifically: --

(a) To render less hard; -- said of matter.

"Their arrow's point they soften in the flame." -- Gay.

(b) To mollify; to make less fierce or intractable.

"Diffidence conciliates the proud, and softens the severe." -- Rambler.

(c) To palliate; to represent as less enormous; as, to soften a fault.

(d) To compose; to mitigate; to assuage.

"Music can soften pain to ease." -- Pope.

(e) To make calm and placid.

"All that cheers or softens life." -- Pope.

(f) To make less harsh, less rude, less offensive, or less violent, or to render of an opposite quality.

"He bore his great commision in his look, But tempered awe, and softened all he spoke." -- Dryden.

(g) To make less glaring; to tone down; as, to soften the coloring of a picture.

(h) To make tender; to make effeminate; to enervate; as, troops softened by luxury.

(i) To make less harsh or grating, or of a quality the opposite; as, to soften the voice.

 
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1. To become soft or softened, or less rude, harsh, severe, or obdurate.

 
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