Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


adjective \ˈstif\

Simple Definition of stiff

  • : difficult to bend or move

  • : painful to move or use; also : showing pain in movement or use

  • : thick and difficult to stir or pour

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of stiff

  1. 1a :  not easily bent :  rigid <a stiff collar>b :  lacking in suppleness or flexibility <stiff muscles>c :  impeded in movement —used of a mechanism <a truck's stiff suspension>d :  drunk 1a

  2. 2a :  firm, resoluteb :  stubborn, unyieldingc :  proudd (1) :  marked by reserve or decorum (2) :  lacking in ease or grace :  stilted

  3. 3 :  hard fought <stiff competition>

  4. 4a (1) :  exerting great force <a stiff wind> (2) :  forceful, vigorousb :  potent <poured her a stiff drink>

  5. 5 :  of a dense or glutinous consistency :  thick

  6. 6a :  harsh, severe <a stiff penalty>b :  arduous, rugged <stiff terrain>

  7. 7 :  not easily heeled over by an external force (as the wind) <a stiff ship>

  8. 8 :  expensive, steep <paid a stiff price>

stiffish play \ˈsti-fish\ adjective
stiffly adverb
stiffness noun

Examples of stiff in a sentence

  1. When I got out of bed this morning my back was stiff as a board.

  2. Beat the egg whites until they are stiff.

Origin of stiff

Middle English stif, from Old English stīf; akin to Middle Dutch stijf stiff, Latin stipare to press together, Greek steibein to tread on

First Known Use: before 12th century

Synonym Discussion of stiff

stiff, rigid, inflexible mean difficult to bend. stiff may apply to any degree of this condition <stretching keeps your muscles from becoming stiff>. rigid applies to something so stiff that it cannot be bent without breaking <a rigid surfboard>. inflexible stresses lack of suppleness or pliability <ski boots with inflexible soles>.

Rhymes with stiff




Simple Definition of stiff

  • : very much : to an extreme degree

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of stiff

  1. 1 :  in a stiff manner :  stiffly

  2. 2 :  to an extreme degree :  severely <scared stiff> <bored stiff>

  3. 3 :  close enough to the hole for an easy putt in golf <hit it stiff and tapped it in for an easy birdie>

13th Century

First Known Use of stiff

13th century




Simple Definition of stiff

  • : the body of a dead person

  • : a person who you think is lucky, unlucky, etc.

  • : an ordinary or dull person

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of stiff

  1. 1 :  corpse

  2. 2a :  vagrant, trampb :  a member of the working class; especially :  a blue-collar workerc :  person <a lucky stiff>; especially :  a stodgy or excessively decorous person

  3. 3 :  flop, failure

Examples of stiff in a sentence

  1. That poor stiff never gets a break.

  2. They have the kind of luxuries the average working stiff can't afford.

Circa 1859

First Known Use of stiff

circa 1859




Simple Definition of stiff

  • : to not give as much money as you should give to (someone)

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of stiff

  • transitive verb
    1. 1a :  to refuse to pay or tip <stiffed the waiter>b :  cheat <stiffed him in a business deal>c :  stick 7a <stiffed us with the bar bill>

    2. 2 :  snub 3 <stiffed sportswriters after the game>

    3. intransitive verb
    4. :  to fail commercially <the movie stiffed at the box office>

    Examples of stiff in a sentence

    1. <the actress has a reputation for stiffing the press at red-carpet events>


    First Known Use of stiff


    STIFF Defined for Kids


    adjective \ˈstif\

    Definition of stiff for Students


    1. 1 :  not easily bent <And because Sarah's clothes were stiff and heavy, the Indian woman made her clothes of deerskin … — Alice Dalgliesh, The Courage of Sarah Noble>

    2. 2 :  not easily moved <stiff muscles>

    3. 3 :  firm and not changeable <stiff determination>

    4. 4 :  not friendly, relaxed, or graceful in manner <… how tense Phoebe's whole family seemed, how tidy, how respectable, how … stiff. — Sharon Creech, Walk Two Moons>

    5. 5 :  powerful, strong <a stiff wind>

    6. 6 :  not flowing easily :  thick <Beat the egg whites until stiff.>

    7. 7 :  severe 3 <a stiff penalty>

    8. 8 :  hard to do or deal with :  difficult <a stiff test>

    stiffly adverb <walk stiffly>
    stiffness noun

    Medical Dictionary


    adjective \ˈstif\

    Medical Definition of stiff

    1. :  lacking in suppleness <stiff muscles>

    stiffness noun

    Seen and Heard

    What made you want to look up stiff? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


    marked by grandiloquent style

    Get Word of the Day daily email!


    Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


    Which of these is a synonym of nonplus?

    soothe reduce perplex disapprove
    Name That Thing

    Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

    SCRABBLE® Sprint

    Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.