La douce lueur du crépuscule
Yesterday I discovered that there are many ways to express the concept of soft in French, depending on the context.
Doux (douce) (/du/, /duːs/), from the Latin dulcis (soft, smooth, pleasant), is used for:
- soft (not rough) skin, hands, hair, fur, silk, towels, fabric or texture
- soft (gentle) lights, colours, curves, lines, breezes and rain;
- soft (not loud) voices, music and voices
- soft (not hard) water
- soft (easy) life
- la douce lueur du crépuscule (the soft glow of the evening light)
- Sa voix se fit plus douce (Her voice grew softer)
mou (molle) (/mu/, /mɔl/), from the Latin mollis (soft), is used for:
- soft (not hard) ground, snow, butter, bread
tendre (/tɑ̃dʁ/), is used for
- soft (not hard) wood
- soft (kind) heart
douillet(te) (/dujɛ/) and moelleux(-euse) (/mwɛ.lø/) are used for:
soft (not hard) beds, cushions and pillows
Douillet is also used to mean soft, as in not physically tough.
indulgent(e) (/ɛ̃dylʒɑ̃/) is used to mean lenient / soft.
If you have a soft spot for someone you could say, ‘j’ai un faible pour qn’.
To say someone is soft in the sense that they’re emotionally sensitive, the word is sensible (/sɑ̃sibl(ə)/). For example, Ne sois pas si douillet!, Ne sois pas si sensible! = Don’t be so soft!