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soft soap

insincere compliments


soft soap = Schmus, Schöntuerei, Schmeichelei —— soft soap = Schmierseife —— to soft-soap sb. = jmd. Honig ums Maul (oder um den Bart) schmieren; jmd. schöntun, sich bei jmd. einschmeicheln



“Over time between now and 2030 you are going to be borrowing more money in order to maintain the economy … people sometimes like you to ‘SOFT SOAP’ and say nice things, but we are in a debt trap”.

Emmanuel Joseph - Barbados Today (29 June 2022)

"Mr Brown tried SOFT SOAP, praising the unions’ role in Labour history, and he tried a jobs package, promising to get 500,000 unemployed people into work."

BBC News

Did you

soft soap / soft-soap
noun & verb phrase

- persuasive talk; flattery

- to try to persuade someone to do what you want by saying pleasant things to them

- a semifluid soap made especially from potassium hydroxide

Dictionary dot com / The Cambridge Dictionary / Merriam-Webster


This colloquial expression alludes to liquid soap, likening its slippery quality to insincere flattery. Its figurative use was first recorded in 1830.

Humanity has used soap-like things for at least 4000 years. The earliest recorded evidence of the making of soap-like materials dates back to around 2800 BC in Ancient Babylon. A recipe for soap having water, alkali and cassia oil was written on a Babylonian clay tablet around 2200 BC.


- be a soft touch = to be easy to control or manipulate; to bend to the desires or demands of others.

- soft in the head = silly, stupid, foolish, mentally deficient.

- soft money (easy money) = money earned through little or no effort of one’s own (perhaps illegally).

- soft-pedal (something) = to dampen, diminish, or downplay the importance or impact of something (an allusion to the dampening effects of a piano’s soft pedal).

- soft sell = a polite attempt to sell something; a very gentle sales pitch.

- soft shoulder = an unpaved lane or area on the side of a road, often a highway, where drivers can stop their vehicles in emergency situations.


- talk or praise used to charm, flatter, or persuade:

apple-polishing, audation, beguilement, bootlicking, bowing and scraping, brown-nosing, buttering up, charm offensive, cobblers, cosying (cuddling) up, currying favour, deference, ego massage, eulogies, excessive deference, extravagant flattery, eyewash, fair words, false praise, fawning, flannel, flattering, flattery, flummery, fulsomeness, fulsome praise, groveling, hero-worship, hokum, homage, honeyed words, ingratiation, insincere flattery, inveiglement, kowtowing, laudation, lionisation, mush, obsequiousness, oiliness, overpraise, palaver, pats on the back, plaudits, pretty speech, puff, puffery, pumping up, servile flattery, servility, simpering, smarm, smarminess, smoke, snow job, SOFT-SOAP, sucking up, sweet-talk, sycophancy, taffy, toadying, toadyism, unctuousness, wheedling

SMUGGLE OWAD into an English conversation, say something like:

“It's really irritating when sales folks try to butter you up with SOFT-SOAP techniques.”

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Paul Smith, IBAN: DE75 7316 0000 0002 5477 40

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