currently I'm TRYING to read some articles about the economy, however, I face one weird word, soft patch. I know what this word means but I don't know why it has that meaning, temporarily slowing down.

Someone explains that it was derived from the word, large patch, which is the place golfers have difficulties to get out of.

  • 3
    Without context it's impossible to say with any certainty, but to me, in the contexts where I've heard it, "soft patch" conjures up a vision of a muddy place in the road that one cannot walk/drive through easily.
    – Hot Licks
    Jan 6, 2016 at 1:16
  • Or more likely, a mudhole where a car spins its wheels and cannot gain traction.
    – Oldcat
    Jan 6, 2016 at 1:27

1 Answer 1


A soft patch is yielding ground, as opposed to a hard surface like pavement. A vehicle on a soft patch may be slowed down or mired. This sense is transferred to the economy, which is said to be in a soft patch when economic activity slows and has trouble gaining traction to get up to speed. Here's a literal description from The Autocar: A Journal Published in the Interests of the Mechanically Propelled Road Carriage, Volume 91 (1947) by Henry Sturmey and H. Walter Staner:

[We were a] mile from our objective when our wheels suddenly sank to the axles in the sand. We had hit a soft patch and had insufficient headway to pull through. Attempts to drive the car to more solid ground only caused the wheels to spin and dig the car in deeper.

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