stand·​off | \ ˈstand-ˌȯf How to pronounce standoff (audio) \

Definition of standoff

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : tie, deadlock the two teams played to a standoff
b : a counterbalancing effect
2 : the act of standing off



Definition of standoff (Entry 2 of 3)

2 : used for holding something at a distance from a surface a standoff insulator

stand off

stood off; standing off; stands off

Definition of stand off (Entry 3 of 3)

intransitive verb

1 : to stay at a distance from something
2 : to sail away from the shore

transitive verb

1 : to keep from advancing : repel
2 : put off, stall

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Examples of standoff in a Sentence


The two governments are currently in a standoff over who has rights to the land. after two hours they had played to a 5–5 standoff


the client's standoff attitude suggested that this was going to be a strictly business relationship
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

If Ferrell doesn’t produce in a big way (keep in mind Mack had just four sacks as a rookie) the Raiders will continue to get bashed for letting one of the top defensive talents in the league get away over a contract standoff. Jerry Mcdonald, The Mercury News, "Raiders’ whirlwind off-season — the eight most significant developments," 14 June 2019 Sunde, 31, was considered more of a co-actor in the standoff rather than a hostage. Keith Schubert, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Suspect shot by police in I-94 standoff in stable condition," 14 June 2019 Still, experts in global oil markets and Middle Eastern geopolitics say this standoff won’t necessarily lead to an escalation of tensions that could impact oil prices. NBC News, "Tankers on fire may not lead to lower gas prices — but a continued trade war will," 14 June 2019 The attacks, including on a Japanese tanker, came just hours before Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan met in Iran with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to try to ease the standoff. Costas Paris, WSJ, "U.S. Says Tehran Is to Blame for Attacks on Fuel Tankers," 14 June 2019 With the Mexico standoff temporarily resolved, much of the focus will now shift back to Trump's approach with China. Damian Paletta, Anchorage Daily News, "Trump levels new tariff threat against China, defends Mexico showdown," 11 June 2019 The standoff between Barr and the House dates back to March, when Mueller delivered his 448-page report to the Justice Department. The Washington Post, The Denver Post, "House Democrats reach deal with Justice Department to review Mueller materials," 10 June 2019 What kind of impact is the WGA-ATA standoff having on rank-and-file producers? Michael O'connell, The Hollywood Reporter, "Producers Guild Chiefs on Diversifying and Georgia's Abortion Ban," 7 June 2019 While most economists believe the United States and China will likely resolve their dispute later this year, Dwyer worries the standoff will prompt Chinese customers to permanently switch to other soybean-producing countries. Paul Davidson, USA TODAY, "Low prices, floods and trade wars plague American farmers, putting their survival at risk," 6 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The berthing had been scheduled to take place on Sept. 22, following a Sept. 18 launch from Wallops Island, Va., but a software glitch prompted an abort while the spacecraft stood off from the station some 1491 miles. Michael Belfiore, Popular Mechanics, "Orbital Sciences' Cygnus Berths with Space Station," 30 Sep. 2013 Non-stealthy bombers such as the B-52H could stand off at a distance and kick in the door for stealthy bombers (but would be unable to accompany the B-2A and B-21 into hostile enemy territory). Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "America Is Building a New, Stealthy Nuclear Cruise Missile," 24 Aug. 2017 Emre Can has called out the press for stories relating to his Liverpool future, amid reports of a contract stand off with the club's hierarchy., "Emre Can Takes to Instagram to Hit Out at 'False Stories & Rumours' Amid Contract Negotiations," 27 Mar. 2018 Should the two clubs continue in a stand off and refuse to reach a settlement, Watford would be required to approach the Premier League to facilitate a formal arbitration process., "Watford Edging Closer to Premier League Arbitration With Everton In Dispute Over Marco Silva," 19 May 2018 While two of the Hornets stood off, Navy Lieutenant Commander Mark I. Fox and his wingman, Lieutenant Nick Mongilio, turned into the enemy. Eric Tegler, Popular Mechanics, "Why the F/A-18 Is Such a Badass Plane," 29 Dec. 2016 Amy Mickelson, dressed in solid black like her husband, stood off the side of the pro shop porch. Beth Ann Nichols, USA TODAY, "Amy Mickelson: Phil Mickelson offered to withdraw from U.S. Open," 17 June 2018 Gardner, who recently had both hips replaced, stood off to one side. Thomas Farragher,, "Creating a resting place befitting a hero," 25 May 2018 Ryan Bundy stands off to the side of the media frenzy, with just a couple of reporters around him. Leah Sottile, Longreads, "Bundyville Chapter Two: By a Thread," 16 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'standoff.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of standoff


circa 1835, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1837, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1603, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

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Statistics for standoff

Last Updated

20 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for standoff

The first known use of standoff was in 1603

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More Definitions for standoff



English Language Learners Definition of standoff

: an argument, contest, etc., in which there is no winner

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having a desire to acquire more things

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