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soften

verb
     
soft‧en [intransitive and transitive]
1 also soften up to become less hard or rough, or make something less hard or rough [≠ harden]:
Use moisturizer to soften your skin.
Cook until the onion softens.
2 if your attitude softens, or if something softens it, it becomes less strict and more sympathetic [≠ harden]:
The government has softened its stance on public spending.
soften towards
I felt that he was beginning to soften towards me.
3 to make the effect of something seem less unpleasant or severe, or to become less unpleasant or severe
soften the blow/impact
The impact of the tax was softened by large tax-free allowances.
4 if your expression or voice softens, or if something softens it, you look or sound kinder and more gentle [≠ harden]:
His voice softened as he spoke to her.
5 to make the shape or colour of something look less severe:
Climbing plants soften the outline of a fence.

soften somebody/something ↔ up

phrasal verb
1 informal to be nice to someone before you ask them to do something, so that they will agree to help you:
She was just softening me up.
2PM to make an enemy weaker so that they are easier to attack:
Use artillery to soften up the enemy forces.
3 to make something less hard or rough

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