adjective, soft·er, soft·est.
- (of a metal) easily magnetized and demagnetized.
- (of solder) fusing readily.
- (of a metal or alloy) fully annealed, so as to provide minimum mechanical hardness.
- (of a photographic image) having delicate gradations of tone.
- (of a focus) lacking in sharpness.
- (of a lens) unable to be focused sharply.
- (of consonants) lenis, especially lenis and voiced.
- (of c and g) pronounced as in cent and gem.
- (of consonants in Slavic languages) palatalized.Compare hard(def 38).
Origin of soft
Synonyms for soft
Related Words for softlyquietly, delicately, smoothly, gently, gingerly, tenderly, faintly, carelessly, gradually, nimbly, agilely, airily, breezily, daintily
Examples from the Web for softly
Contemporary Examples of softly
“J.W. heard Hayden say softly, ‘You smell good,’” the papers report.Rape, Lies & Videotape in Ferguson
November 18, 2014
Kimberlin, who looks and softly speaks like a miniaturized clone of David Strathairn, could not lay a glove on his tormenter.The Weirdest Story About a Conservative Obsession, a Convicted Bomber, and Taylor Swift You Have Ever Read
August 30, 2014
“Boom,” my boyfriend whispered to me softly when he noticed me looking out the window.How I Got Used to Gaza Rockets
July 9, 2014
Silently, he moves to grab a kombo (a whisk broom instrument)—then, softly, he taps her shoulders and head.Hallucinating Away a Heroin Addiction
May 4, 2014
And in the great new family, The family of the free, With softly spoken, kindly word Remember also me.Ukrainians in U.S. Warn: ‘Mr. Putin, Heroes Do Not Die’
April 1, 2014
Historical Examples of softly
“Fair and softly,” said the printer with something of a smile.The Armourer's Prentices
Charlotte M. Yonge
He turned her face up to his own again, and softly kissed her wet eyes.The Spenders
Harry Leon Wilson
"It certainly is nice to be liked," returned Kathleen softly.Grace Harlowe's Return to Overton Campus
Jessie Graham Flower
Then, still softly and swiftly, he lifted the saddle from its peg and put it on its back.Way of the Lawless
She went about looking at things, curious, touching them softly as if they were sacred.Life and Death of Harriett Frean
- an older word for lenis
- (not in technical usage) denoting the consonants c and g in English when they are pronounced as palatal or alveolar fricatives or affricates (s, / dʒ /, / ʃ /, / ð /, / tʃ /) before e and i, rather than as velar stops (k, g)
- (in the Slavonic languages) palatalized before a front vowel or a special character (soft sign) written as Ь
- unprotected against attacka soft target
- militaryunarmoured, esp as applied to a truck by comparison with a tank
- gentle, sympathetic, or lenient towards
- feeling affection or infatuation for
Word Origin for soft
Old English softe, earlier sefte, "gentle, mild-natured; easeful, comfortable, calm, undisturbed; luxurious," from West Germanic *samfti, from Proto-Germanic *samftijaz "level, even, smooth, gentle, soft" (cf. Old Saxon safti, Old High German semfti, German sanft; and from a variant form with -ch- for -f-, Middle Dutch sachte, Dutch zacht, German sacht), from root *som- "fitting, agreeable."
From c.1200 of material things, "not stiff, not coarse, fine; yielding to weight." From late 14c. of wind, rain, etc. Of sounds, "quiet, not loud," from early 13c. Of words, "mild, restrained; courteous" mid-14c. From late 14c. as "indulgent," also "physically feeble; easily overcome, lacking manly courage." From 1755 of water ("relatively free from mineral salts"), from 1789 of coal. Meaning "foolish, simple, silly" is attested from 1620s; earlier "easily moved or swayed; soft-hearted, sympathetic; docile" (early 13c.). In reference to drinks, "non-alcoholic" from 1880. As an adverb, Old English softe "gently;" late 13c. as "quietly." As an interjection from 1540s.
Soft landing is from 1958 and the U.S. space program. Adjective soft-core (in reference to pornography) is from 1966 (cf. hardcore). Soft rock as a music style is attested from 1969. Soft sell is from 1955. Soft-shoe as a dancing style is attested from 1927. Soft-boiled is from 1757 of eggs; of persons, ideas, etc., 1930 (cf. half-baked). Soft-focus (adj.) of camera shots is from 1917. The softer sex "women collectively" is from 1640s.
In addition to the idioms beginning with soft
- soften up
- soft in the head
- soft job
- soft on
- soft pedal
- soft sell
- soft soap
- soft spot
- soft touch
- hard (soft) sell