Vocabulary: anneal – to strengthen or harden

Title: Tinkers
Author: Paul Harding
Sentence: Howard shivered, suddenly cold. Summer would anneal the chilled earth, but for now the water was so mineral and hard that it seemed to ring.
Page: 64

Word: anneal
  • To subject (glass or metal) to a process of heating and slow cooling in order to toughen and reduce brittleness.
  • To strengthen or harden.
   Source: The Free Dictionary

Seems like the word is being used as a synonym for ‘soften’ but the definition is actually the opposite?

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