- yielding readily to touch or pressure; easily penetrated, divided, or changed in shape; not hard or stiff: a soft pillow.
- relatively deficient in hardness, as metal or wood.
- smooth and agreeable to the touch; not rough or coarse: a soft fabric; soft skin.
- producing agreeable sensations; pleasant or comfortable: soft slumber.
- low or subdued in sound; gentle and melodious: soft music; a soft voice.
- not harsh or unpleasant to the eye; not glaring: soft light; a soft color.
- not hard or sharp: soft outlines.
- gentle or mild: soft breezes.
- genial or balmy, as climate or air.
- gentle, mild, warm-hearted, or compassionate: a soft, grandmotherly woman.
- smooth, soothing, or ingratiating: soft words.
- not harsh or severe, as a penalty or demand.
- responsive or sympathetic to the feelings, emotions, needs, etc., of others; tender-hearted.
- sentimental or flowery, as language: soft, meaningless talk.
- not strong or robust; delicate; incapable of great endurance or exertion: He was too soft for the Marines.
- Informal. easy; involving little effort; not difficult, laborious, trying, or severe: a soft job.
- Informal. easily influenced or swayed; easily imposed upon; impressionable.
- lenient, permissive, or conciliatory, especially regarding something that is conceived of as dangerous or threatening: to be soft on Communism.
- (of water) relatively free from mineral salts that interfere with the action of soap.
- (of paper money or a monetary system) not supported by sufficient gold reserves or not easily convertible into a foreign currency.
- (of a market, market condition, or prices) declining in value, volume, profitability, etc.; weak: a soft tourist season.Compare firm1(def 7).
- (of money) plentiful or available at low interest rates or on easy terms: a soft loan.
- (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).
- Military. (of a missile-launching base) aboveground and relatively unprotected from enemy attack.
- Aerospace. (of a landing of a space vehicle) gentle; not harmful to the vehicle or its contents: a soft landing on the moon.
- Physics. (of a beam of particles or electromagnetic radiation) having relatively low energy: soft x-rays.Compare hard(def 40).
- (of a delegate, voter, etc.) not committed to any one candidate.
- foolish or stupid: soft in the head.
- (of a detergent) readily biodegradable.
- something that is soft or yielding; the soft part.
- in a soft manner.
- be quiet! hush!
- not so fast! stop!
- be soft on someone, Informal. to be amorously inclined toward a person; have an affection for: He's been soft on her for years.
Origin of soft
SynonymsSee more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com
Related Wordsquietly, delicately, smoothly, gently, gingerly, tenderly, faintly, carelessly, gradually, nimbly, agilely, airily, breezily, daintily
Examples from the Web for 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
“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
Then, still softly and swiftly, he lifted the saddle from its peg and put it on its back.Way of the Lawless
"It certainly is nice to be liked," returned Kathleen softly.Grace Harlowe's Return to Overton Campus
Jessie Graham Flower
She went about looking at things, curious, touching them softly as if they were sacred.Life and Death of Harriett Frean
- easy to dent, work, or cut without shattering; malleable
- not hard; giving little or no resistance to pressure or weight
- fine, light, smooth, or fluffy to the touch
- gentle; tranquil
- (of music, sounds, etc) low and pleasing
- (of light, colour, etc) not excessively bright or harsh
- (of a breeze, climate, etc) temperate, mild, or pleasant
- dialect drizzly or rainya soft day; the weather has turned soft
- slightly blurred; not sharply outlinedsoft focus
- (of a diet) consisting of easily digestible foods
- kind or lenient, often excessively so
- easy to influence or impose upon
- prepared to compromise; not doctrinairethe soft left
- informal feeble or silly; simple (often in the phrase soft in the head)
- unable to endure hardship, esp through too much pampering
- physically out of condition; flabbysoft muscles
- loving; tendersoft words
- informal requiring little exertion; easya soft job
- chem (of water) relatively free of mineral salts and therefore easily able to make soap lather
- (of a drug such as cannabis) nonaddictive or only mildly addictiveCompare hard (def. 19)
- (of news coverage) concentrating on trivial stories or those with human interest
- 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
- finance, mainly US (of prices, a market, etc) unstable and tending to decline
- (of a currency) in relatively little demand, esp because of a weak balance of payments situation
- (of radiation, such as X-rays and ultraviolet radiation) having low energy and not capable of deep penetration of materials
- physics (of valves or tubes) only partially evacuated
- related to the performance of non-specific, undefinable taskssoft skills such as customer services and office support
- soft on or soft about
- gentle, sympathetic, or lenient towards
- feeling affection or infatuation for
- in a soft mannerto speak soft
- a soft object, part, or piece
- informal See softie
Word Origin and History for softly
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.
Idioms and Phrases with softly
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