Etymology: Middle English, from Old English sōfte, alteration of sēfte; akin to Old High German semfti soft
Date: before 12th century
a. pleasing or agreeable to the senses ; bringing ease, comfort, or quiet <the soft influences of home> b. having a bland or mellow rather than a sharp or acid taste c. (1) not bright or glaring ; subdued (2) having or producing little contrast or a relatively short range of tones <a soft photographic print> d. quiet in pitch or volume e. of the eyes having a liquid or gentle appearance f. smooth or delicate in texture, grain, or fiber <soft cashmere> <soft fur> g. (1) balmy, mild, or clement in weather or temperature (2) moving or falling with slight force or impact ; not violent <soft breezes> 2. demanding little work or effort ; easy <a soft job> 3. a. sounding as in ace and gem respectively — used of c and g or their sound b. of a consonant voiced c. constituting a vowel before which there is a \y\ sound or a \y\-like modification of a consonant or constituting a consonant in whose articulation there is a \y\-like modification or which is followed by a \y\ sound (as in Russian) 4. archaic moving in a leisurely manner 5. rising gradually <a soft slope> 6. having curved or rounded outline ; not harsh or jagged <soft hills against the horizon> 7. marked by a gentleness, kindness, or tenderness: as a. (1) not harsh or onerous in character <a policy of soft competition> (2) based on negotiation, conciliation, or flexibility rather than on force, threats, or intransigence <took a soft line during the crisis> (3) tending to take a soft line — usually used with on <soft on dictators> <soft on law and order> b. tending to ingratiate or disarm ; engaging, kind <a soft answer turns away wrath — Proverbs 15:1 (Revised Standard Version)> c. marked by mildness ; unassuming, low-key 8. a. emotionally suggestible or responsive ; impressionable b. unduly susceptible to influence ; compliant c. lacking firmness or strength of character ; feeble, unmanly d. amorously attracted or emotionally involved — used with on <has been soft on her for years> 9. a. lacking robust strength, stamina, or endurance especially because of living in ease or luxury <grown soft and indolent> b. weak or deficient mentally <soft in the head> 10. a. yielding to physical pressure b. permitting someone or something to sink in — used of wet ground c. (1) of a consistency that may be shaped or molded (2) capable of being spread d. easily magnetized and demagnetized e. lacking relatively or comparatively in hardness <soft iron> 11. deficient in or free from substances (as calcium and magnesium salts) that prevent lathering of soap <soft water> 12. having relatively low energy <soft X-rays> 13. of news relatively less serious or significant 14. occurring at such a speed and under such circumstances as to avoid destructive impact <soft landing of a spacecraft on the moon> 15. not protected against enemy attack <a soft aboveground launching site> <soft targets> 16. biodegradable <a soft detergent> <soft pesticides> 17. of a drug considered less detrimental than a hard narcotic 18. easily polarized — used of acids and bases 19. a. of currency not readily convertible b. of a loan not secured by collateral 20. a. being low due to sluggish market conditions <soft prices> b. sluggish, slow <a soft market> 21. not firmly committed <soft unreliable political support> 22. soft-core <soft porn> 23. a. being or based on interpretive or speculative data <soft evidence> b. utilizing or based on soft data <soft science> 24. being or using renewable sources of energy (as solar radiation, wind, or tides) <soft technologies> 25. of money contributed (as by a corporation) to a political party rather than directly to a particular candidate • softish adjective • softly adverb • softness noun II. adverb Date: before 12th century in a soft or gentle manner ; softly III. noun Date: 15th century a soft object, material, or part <the soft of the thumb>
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.