Usage note: optionchoice alternative possibilityThese are all words for something that you choose to do in a particular situation.option something that you can choose to have or do; the freedom to choose what you do: We are currently studying all the options available. He was given one month's imprisonment without the option of a fine.note Option is also the word used in computing for one of the choices you can make when using a computer program: Choose the “Cut” option from the Edit menu.choice the freedom to choose what you do; something that you can choose to have or do: If I had the choice, I would stop working tomorrow. She has a number of choices available to her.alternative something that you can choose to have or do out of two or more possibilities: You can be paid in cash weekly or by check monthly: Those are the two alternatives.option, choice, or alternative?Choice is slightly less formal than option, and alternative is slightly more formal.Choice is most often used for “the freedom to choose,” although you can sometimes also use option (but not usually alternative): If I had the choice/option, I would… If I had the alternative, I would… parental choice in education parental option/alternative in education. Things that you can choose are options, choices, or alternatives. However, alternative is more frequently used to talk about choosing between two things rather than several.possibility one of the different things that you can do in a particular situation: We need to explore a wide range of possibilities. The possibilities are endless.note Possibility can be used in a similar way to option, choice, and alternative, but the emphasis here is less on the need to make a choice, and more on what is available.patternswith/without the option/choice/possibility of somethinga(n) good/acceptable/reasonable/possible option/choice/alternativethe only option/choice/alternative/possibility open to someoneto have a/an/the option/choice of doing somethingto have no option/choice/alternative but to do somethinga number/range of options/choices/alternatives/possibilitiesnoun [uncountable, singular]the softness of her skinthe softness of the water see also softlyIDIOMS
not hard1 changing shape easily when pressed; not stiff or firmsoft margarinesoft feather pillowsThe grass was soft and springy.2 less hard than averagesoft rocks such as limestonesoft cheeses antonym hard
not rough3 smooth and pleasant to touchsoft skina dress made from the finest, softest silk antonym rough
without angles/edges4 not having sharp angles or hard edgesThis season's fashions focus on warm tones and soft lines.The moon's pale light cast soft shadows.
light/colors5 [usually before noun] not too bright, in a way that is pleasant and relaxing to the eyesa soft pinkthe soft glow of candlelight antonym harsh
rain/wind6 not strong or violent synonym lightA soft breeze rustled the trees.
sounds7 not loud, and usually pleasant and gentle synonym quietsoft background musica soft voice
sympathetic8 kind and sympathetic; easily affected by other people's sufferingJulia's soft heart was touched by his grief. antonym hard
not strict9 (usually disapproving) not strict or severe; not strict or severe enough synonym lenient soft (on someone/something)The government is not becoming soft on crime. soft (with someone)If you're too soft with these kids they'll never respect you. antonym tough
crazy10 (informal, disapproving) stupid or crazyHe must be going soft in the head.
not brave/tough enough11 (informal, disapproving) not brave enough; wanting to be safe and comfortableStay in a hotel? Don't be so soft. I want to camp out under the stars.
too easy12 (disapproving) not involving much work; too easy and comfortableThey had got too used to the soft life at home. antonym hard
water13 not containing mineral salts and therefore good for washingYou won't need much soap—the water here is very soft. antonym hard