Also called una corda pedal . a pedal, as on a piano, for reducing tonal volume.
Informal. something that restrains or dampens: to put a soft pedal on one's enthusiasm.
Other definitions for soft-pedal (2 of 2)
to use the soft pedal.
to soften the sound of by using the soft pedal.
Informal. to tone or play down; make less strong, as an idea or fact: The dean soft-pedaled the reports of cheating.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use soft pedal in a sentence
And when the AHA is reintroduced in parliament, as it inevitably will be, he can soft-pedal.
It would do nothing about climate change and would embrace but soft-pedal and rebrand social conservatism.
Even when the crowd turned loud and nasty on certain foreign-policy points, Paul refused to soft-pedal his anti-interventionism.Rick Perry Unleashes His Inner Cowboy in Fox News Debate | Michelle Cottle | January 17, 2012 | THE DAILY BEAST
She muffled the notes with the soft pedal and broke off frequently.The Child of Pleasure | Gabriele D'Annunzio
"Do them good," her friend said viciously, but with the soft pedal down for once.Tiny Luttrell | Ernest William Hornung
Grandma—she'd put down her foot—soft pedal—she's done that all my life.The Open Question | Elizabeth Robins
If I thought it would please you I'd cut out the brass band effects and put some soft pedal polish on my manners.John Marsh's Millions | Charles Klein
On Dec. 20,1913, we find the "Outlook" "putting the soft pedal" on the public indignation.The Profits of Religion, Fifth Edition | Upton Sinclair
British Dictionary definitions for soft-pedal
to mute the tone of (a piano) by depressing the soft pedal
informal to make (something, esp something unpleasant) less obvious by deliberately failing to emphasize or allude to it
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Other Idioms and Phrases with soft pedal
Something that de-emphasizes, restrains, or plays down, as in The mayor put a soft pedal on this potentially explosive situation. This expression alludes to the una corda or soft pedal of the piano, which reduces the volume of the sound. It gave rise to the verb soft-pedal, meaning both “reduce the volume of” or “make less emphatic, downplay.” [Early 1900s]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.