Meaning of “soft” in the English Dictionary

"soft" in British English

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uk /sɒft/ us /sɑːft/

soft adjective (NOT HARD)

A2 not hard or firm:

soft ground
soft cheese
I like chocolates with soft centres.
Soft tissue, such as flesh, allows X-rays through.

A2 Soft things, especially parts of the body, are not hard or rough and feel pleasant and smooth when touched:

soft leather

informal disapproving Someone who is soft is not very healthy and strong:

Look at you! You need more exercise. You're going/getting soft.

More examples

  • I like soft French cheeses such as Brie and Camembert.
  • Sleeping on a bed that is too soft can be bad for your back.
  • Bananas and other soft fruits bruise easily.
  • The material was soft to the touch.
  • He loved the feel of her soft hair against his skin.

soft adjective (GENTLE)

B1 not forceful, loud, or easily noticed:

a soft voice/sound
a soft glow

disapproving not severe or forceful enough, especially in criticizing or punishing someone who has done something wrong:

She thinks I'm too soft on the kids when they misbehave.
The government can't be seen to be taking a soft line (= not being severe enough) with criminals.

More examples

  • the soft flicker of candlelight
  • Palm trees swayed lazily in the soft breeze.
  • He put on some soft music and turned the lights down in order to give the room a bit more atmosphere.
  • I heard the soft mutter of voices in the next room.
  • He spoke with a soft Irish accent.

soft adjective (WATER)

Soft water contains a low level of minerals and allows soap to make bubbles.

soft adjective (ECONOMY)

In a soft market/economy there are more goods for sale than there are people to buy them, so prices are usually low.

noun [ U ] uk /ˈsɒft.nəs/ us /ˈsɑːft.nəs/

(Definition of “soft” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"soft" in American English

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softadjective [ -er/-est only ]

us /sɔft/

soft adjective [ -er/-est only ] (NOT HARD)

not hard or firm; changing its shape when pressed:

The crabs are plucked from the water before their soft shells have had a chance to harden.
The baby’s skin feels so soft (= smooth and enjoyable to touch).

soft adjective [ -er/-est only ] (GENTLE)

not forceful, loud, or easily noticed:

a soft voice
She likes soft pastel colors.

soft adjective [ -er/-est only ] (WEAK)

not strong; weak:

Car sales were soft last year.
If someone is said to be soft on crime, that person is thought to be not forceful enough in punishing criminals.

soft adjective [ -er/-est only ] (EASY)

not difficult; easier than other things of the same type:

She asked some soft questions.

(Definition of “soft” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"soft" in Business English

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uk /sɒft/ us

STOCK MARKET, FINANCE used to describe a market in which prices are not rising or are going down:

Its products may be good, but they cost a lot of money, which makes them difficult to sell in a soft market.
Deepening soft market conditions make profitable growth difficult to maintain.

ECONOMICS used to describe prices, demand, sales, etc. that are not increasing or that are falling:

The industry is generally struggling with soft prices and expensive running costs.
Domestic demand / is soft and the Fed could cut interest rates further.

(Definition of “soft” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)