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)