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).
- soft armor,
- soft chancre,
- soft clam,
- soft coal,
- soft commodities
Origin of soft
Examples from the Web for softly
“J.W. heard Hayden say softly, ‘You smell good,’” the papers report.
Kimberlin, who looks and softly speaks like a miniaturized clone of David Strathairn, could not lay a glove on his tormenter.
“Boom,” my boyfriend whispered to me softly when he noticed me looking out the window.
Silently, he moves to grab a kombo (a whisk broom instrument)—then, softly, he taps her shoulders and head.
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’|Michael Daly|April 1, 2014|DAILY BEAST
But now, softly whispering through ten thousand leaves, how gently the whole tree yields to the impression!
Next came Silvio, in a softly upholstered cart drawn by two Peschiera boys.Heimatlos|Johanna Spyri
The two weeks on the ocean came and went as softly as flowers unfold and disappear.The Harris-Ingram Experiment|Charles E. Bolton
Trembling with excitement, I softly opened the gate and entered the grounds.That Affair at Elizabeth|Burton E. Stevenson
“That seemed just right,” said Robinette softly as she came out into the sunshine again, a few minutes later.Robinetta|Kate Douglas Wiggin
- 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