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What Does It Mean “To Soft-Soap” Someone? And Why Do We Say It?

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Since the early 19th century, to soft-soap someone is to flatter them or give them excessively deferential treatment. The idea is that soft soap is unctuous and if you pour soft soap down someone’s back or pour soft soap into someone’s ear, it’s imposing something on someone that’s seemingly positive that’s actually annoying. Don’t give me all that lather reflects a similar irritation or outright disgust. This is part of a complete episode.

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