When a material is so soft that the cohesive strength (or adhesive strength, in the case of interfacial fracture) exceeds the elastic modulus of the material, we show that a crack will blunt instead of propagating. Large–deformation finite–element model (FEM) simulations of crack initiation, in which the debonding processes are quantified using a cohesive zone model, are used to support this hypothesis. An approximate analytic solution, which agrees well with the FEM simulation, gives additional insight into the blunting process. The consequence of this result on the strength of soft, rubbery materials is the main topic of this paper. We propose two mechanisms by which crack growth can occur in such blunted regions. We have also performed experiments on two different elastomers to demonstrate elastic blunting. In one system, we present some details on a void growth mechanism for ultimate failure, post–blunting. Finally, we demonstrate how crack blunting can shed light on some long–standing problems in the area of adhesion and fracture of elastomers.