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Your baby is crying

is it idiomatic to say "to coax the baby not to cry" or any better / common way to say it?

coax: to persuade somebody to do something by talking to them in a kind and gentle way

synonym cajole

coax somebody/something (into doing something) She coaxed the horse into coming a little closer.

coax somebody/something (into/out of something) He was coaxed out of retirement to help the failing company.

coax somebody/something (+ adv./prep.) She had to coax the car along.

Police managed to coax the man down from the ledge.

coax (somebody/something) + speech ‘Nearly there,’ she coaxed.

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  • No, you can't coax somebody to not do something. You can coax them to stop, as in the examples. Nov 30, 2019 at 12:21
  • @FumbleFingers, this video says "5 seconds to coax the baby not to cry" (dianjinwa.com/video/14607.html)
    – Tom
    Nov 30, 2019 at 12:58
  • The video appears to be on a Chinese website, so probably not written by a native speaker. Nov 30, 2019 at 13:54
  • Tom -That's not even from an English source! Nov 30, 2019 at 15:02

1 Answer 1

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I stand corrected. Apparently, some Americans do indeed coax babies...

...but Brits don't...

The reason coaxing doesn't work for me (as a Brit, obviously) with crying babies is that it strongly implies getting a cautious, reluctant party to do something they're not really willing to do. So you might quite reasonably coax the baby to eat, but that implication doesn't sit well when what you want it to do is stop crying.

Maybe that implication - of coaxing the frightened [child, animal, whatever] - is either weaker or non-existent for Americans, I dunno. But I would avoid it in the exact cited context.

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  • what about "calm the crying baby down", is it more common than "soothe the crying baby"
    – Tom
    Nov 30, 2019 at 16:32
  • You could have followed my "some Americans" link as easily as I've just done... Nov 30, 2019 at 16:38
  • ...and added calm the baby to the search strings yourself. It occurs, yes. Nov 30, 2019 at 16:39
  • ...and I don't have a problem with calming crying babies, just a slight distaste for coaxing them not to cry. Nov 30, 2019 at 16:41
  • Here's one more NGram that might help. It shows that quiet, soothe, calm a crying baby all occur reasonably often, but coax a crying baby doesn't occur often enough to show on the chart. Nov 30, 2019 at 17:50

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