Green’s Dictionary of Slang

soft adj.

1. [late 17C; 19C+] stupid, dull, foolish; also in compar. phr. soft as shite.

2. [mid-18C; 1920s] (US campus) partially or totally intoxicated by drink or drugs.

3. [19C+] overly kind, easily imposed upon; insufficiently ruthless; vulnerable.

4. [mid-19C+] easy, comfortable, requiring no effort.

5. [mid-19C+] usu. constr. with on, attracted to, in love with.

6. [20C+] (US campus) weak, timid, not able to defend oneself.

7. [1980s+] (W.I. Rasta, also soff) unable to cope, impoverished.

8. [1980s+] (W.I. Rasta) not well done, amateurish.

9. [2000s] (W.I. Rasta) effeminate, homosexual; thus softman n.

In compounds

soft ha’porth (n.) (also daft ha’porth)

[20C+] a weakling, a simpleton.

softhead (n.)

a fool, a stupid person.

soft-headed (adj.) (also softhead)

foolish, stupid.

soft one (n.)

1. [early 19C+] (UK Und.) a gullible, easily fooled victim.

2. [1900s] in betting, a certainty.

soft roll (n.) [roll in the hay n. + play on SE]

[1940s–50s] a woman who is easy to seduce.

soft snap (n.)

something easy.

soft stuff (n.)

1. [late 19C+] (Aus.) ‘soft’, i.e. non-alcoholic or weak drinks.

2. [1920s] (US Und.) paper money, notes [var. on soft money n. (1)].

3. [1960s] (drugs) ‘soft’ drugs, e.g. cannabis, amphetamines rather than narcotics [stuff n. (5)].

soft sugar (n.)

something easy.

soft teat (n.)

[1960s] (US) an easy job.

soft tommy (n.)

[mid-19C] (UK tramp) a gullible person.

In phrases

in soft

[1910s] (US) enjoying a comfortable situation.

soft in the head (adj.) (also soft in the brain, cocoanut, …nut, …upper story)

[mid-17C+] stupid, poss. insane.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

soft-arsed (adj.)

[1990s+] foolish.

soft ass

see separate entries.

softball (adj.)

see separate entry.

soft clothes (adj.)

[1940s+] (US) wearing civilian clothes, plain-clothes; thus soft-clothesman, a plain-clothes detective.


[1990s] (Aus.) a weakling, lit. one who is impotent.

softcore (adj.) [on model of SE softcore pornography, titillating but not legally ‘obscene’]

[1970s+] (orig. US) mild, not extreme.

soft gut (n.)

[1910s] (US) something unexceptional.

soft horn/-horned

see separate entries.

soft-leg (n.) (also soft legs)

[1950s–70s] (US black) a woman, esp. an attractive woman.

soft-mash (n.) (also soft-shoes) [SE mash, to crush]

[20C+] (W.I.) a pair of rubber-soled, canvas sneakers.

soft money (n.)

see separate entry.

soft pedal (v.) (also keep one’s feet on the soft pedal, put on the soft pedal, put the soft pedal on, work the soft pedal, soft-peddle) [piano imagery]

[1910s+] to play down, to diminish, to keep a low profile, to act in a restrained manner; thus soft-pedalling n and attrib.

soft-roed (adj.) [SE soft roe, the sperm of a male fish]

[late 19C–1900s] kind-hearted; weak.

soft sawder/-sawderer

see separate entries.

soft-shoe (adj.)

[20C+] surreptitious, duplicitous; thus get the old soft-shoe v., to be treated duplicitously.

soft soap

see separate entries.

soft spot (n.)

1. [mid-19C+] a feeling of kindness, sympathy.

2. [late 19C+] anything, esp. a job, considered easy and enjoyable, undemanding.

3. [1900s–50s] a weakness.

soft song man (n.)

[1920s–60s] (S.Afr./US Und.) a confidence trickster.

soft thing (n.)

see separate entry.

soft-top (n.)

[1940s] (US black) a padded stool, esp. as found in a bar.

In phrases

keep one’s feet on the soft pedal/put on the soft pedal/put the soft pedal on/work the soft pedal (v.)

see soft pedal

soft-cock (adj.)

[2000s] (Aus.) weak, lacking drive.