• WordNet 3.6
    • adj softening having a softening or soothing effect especially to the skin
    • n softening the process of becoming softer "refrigeration delayed the softening of the fruit","he observed the softening of iron by heat"
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: More than 5,000 years ago, the Chinese discovered how to make silk from silkworm cocoons. For about 3,000 years, the Chinese kept this discovery a secret. Because poor people could not afford real silk, they tried to make other cloth look silky. Women would beat on cotton with sticks to soften the fibers. Then they rubbed it against a big stone to make it shiny. The shiny cotton was called "chintz." Because chintz was a cheaper copy of silk, calling something "chintzy" means it is cheap and not of good quality.
    • Softening a. & n. from Soften v.
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Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n softening The act of making soft or softer.
    • n softening In painting, the blending of colors into each other.
    • n softening In pathology, a diminution of the natural and healthy firmness of organs or parts of organs; mollities.
    • n softening The removal of antimony and other impurities from lead. See improving, 2.
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  • Charles Dickens
    “It opens the lungs, washes the countenance, exercises the eyes, and softens down the temper; so cry away.”
  • Robert Louis Stevenson
    “Give us grace and strength to forbear and to persevere. Give us courage and gaiety and the quiet mind, spare to us our friends, soften to us our enemies.”
  • George Orwell
    “No advance in wealth, no softening of manners, no reform or revolution has ever brought human equality a millimeter nearer.”
  • Joseph Addison
    “Our friends don't see our faults, or conceal them, or soften them.”
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt
    “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel in order to be tough.”
  • Miguel De Cervantes
    “When the severity of the law is to be softened, let pity, not bribes, be the motive.”


In literature:

Cook until the tapioca begins to soften, then add one and one-half cups of milk.
"Mrs. Wilson's Cook Book" by Mary A. Wilson
Her nerves extended into those tresses, and her temper could always be softened by stroking them down.
"The Return of the Native" by Thomas Hardy
Instantly the woman's face softened.
"Ben Blair" by Will Lillibridge
His face softened (from the other end of the room Anne saw it soften), and Lady Cayley pursued with soundless feet her fugitive advantage.
"The Helpmate" by May Sinclair
But the enjoyment of talking of her own romantic youth to Edmund had had a softening effect.
"Great Possessions" by Mrs. Wilfrid Ward
And it was still day, a day softened into a gray twilight which hung like a misty veil over the desert.
"Under Handicap" by Jackson Gregory
The hopes which softened men's hearts, brought back their old feelings for its king.
"History of the Girondists, Volume I" by Alphonse de Lamartine
I felt my gray hairs dropping one by one; my heavy heart grew light; my groans softened to sighs.
"Tales of the Chesapeake" by George Alfred Townsend
Her pale thin face was lit with pleasure, and her grave, almost stern eyes softened.
"A Crooked Path" by Mrs. Alexander
This will thoroughly soften the butter without melting it.
"Fowler's Household Helps" by A. L. Fowler

In poetry:

Death's shadows crept over her face,
And softened the hard marks of care;
Repentance had won a last grace,
And the Angel of Mercy stood there.
"A Death" by Abram Joseph Ryan
Something of this, dear friend, you know;
And will you take the book from me
That holds this mournful melody,
And softens grief to sadness so?
"With A Copy of: "In Memoriam"" by George MacDonald
CESARIO, thy Lyre's dulcet measure,
So sweetly, so tenderly flows;
That could my sad soul taste of pleasure,
Thy music would soften its woes.
"To Cesario" by Mary Darby Robinson
'With thy husband, from this happy clime,
I had seen thee for ever depart!
Still hoping affection and time
Might soften the pride of his heart:
"The Old Fisherman" by Matilda Betham
There is a Voice whose tones inspire
Such softened feelings in my breast,
I would not hear a Seraph Choir,
Unless that voice could join the rest.
"Stanzas To Jessy" by Lord George Gordon Byron
Sun of our life, thy quickening ray
Sheds on our path the glow of day;
Star of our hope, thy softened light
Cheers the long watches of the night.
"A Sun-Day Hymn" by Oliver Wendell Holmes

In news:

1 8-ounce package neufchatel cheese, softened.
Death didn't soften the opinions of the art world toward her paintings.
Cream cheese, softened 32 oz.
Add broth to soften the leek and cook slowly for 6 minutes.
Merkel Sees No Leeway for Greece, Rejecting Signals of Softening.
Cream cheese, softened 2/3 c.
Unsalted butter, softened 2 oz.
Softened unsalted butter 3 Tbsp.
Age hasn't softened Tom Green.
Of reduced fat cream cheese, softened at room temperature.
Using your clothes dryer to soften jeans or towels hung on the line.
Cup (50 ml) goat cheese, softened.
Position to soften on NATO supply line .
Place butter in a bowl and soften to room temperature.
WHY IT WORKS Wilde has a strong jaw, which is softened by the wispy, face-framing layers.

In science:

At pressure 40 GPa, the fcc structure becomes unstable, the intermediate phase emerges from fcc phase by phonon softening.
Tc map and superconductivity of simple metals at high pressure
In high-pressure (P >80Gpa) region, decreasing Tc with pressure is induced by softening of phonon modes.
Tc map and superconductivity of simple metals at high pressure
We find that the α = 0 behavior is generic for all α < 1, but the transition is softened as α increases.
Phase transitions on heterogeneous random graphs: some case studies
First-order phase transitions are known to be significantly softened under the presence of quenched randomness [1–5], whereas continuous transitions may have their exponents altered under random fields or random bonds [6, 7].
Universality in disordered systems: The case of the three-dimensional random-bond Ising model
Correlation effects soften the magnetic properties of the ferromagnetic layers, induced states above EF with tails that cross the Fermi level and reduce the carrier spin polarization.
Absence of halfmetallicity in defect-free Cr, Mn-delta-doped Digital Magnetic Heterostructures