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

Examples of standoff in a Sentence

Noun 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 Adjective 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 The standoff ended after more than 10 hours when the temple’s rabbi threw a chair at Akram and fled with the other two remaining hostages just as an FBI tactical team was moving in. NBC News, 26 Jan. 2022 The standoff in Texas ended around 9 p.m. Saturday when the last hostages ran out of the synagogue and an FBI SWAT team rushed in. Jamie Stengle, ajc, 17 Jan. 2022 Officials said the standoff ended at around 12:30 p.m. Friday but did not say how. Taylor Pettaway, San Antonio Express-News, 3 Dec. 2021 One man was shot in the arm and a woman held against her will during the tense encounter, but no other police or civilian injuries were reported once the standoff ended. Zach Murdock,, 17 Oct. 2021 Grief counselors gathered at the jail, where Gudger was scheduled to work her shift at 6 p.m., before the standoff ended. Adam Ferrise, cleveland, 17 Sep. 2021 In July more than 50 Democratic lawmakers left Texas to ensure there wasn't a quorum and a vote on the bill couldn't be taken, but the standoff ended earlier this month after 38 days. Catherine Garcia, The Week, 31 Aug. 2021 The standoff ended in an uneasy truce after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11. oregonlive, 10 Aug. 2021 Eventually, the standoff ended without shots being fired. Mike Giglio, The New Yorker, 28 July 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The footage shows the female knock on the victim's apartment door while Cornist and Stone stand off to the side, officials said. Quinlan Bentley, The Enquirer, 5 Dec. 2021 Malliotakis said New Yorkers were being left without a safety net as the city and its firefighters stand off over the mandate. NBC News, 31 Oct. 2021 Keeping to himself in a corner of the ready room before the race, Dressel didn’t sit in the chair reserved for him, choosing to stand off to the side. Alice Park/tokyo, Time, 31 July 2021 Relations between the United States and Cuba had improved under the Obama administration, when the U.S. president and his Cuban peers sought to end the lingering post-Cold War stand off and normalize relations. Washington Post, 12 July 2021 India's government continues to escalate its high-stakes stand off with Silicon Valley. Jessie Yeung, CNN, 28 May 2021 Others, meanwhile, stand off to the side of the room. Jennifer Levitz, WSJ, 7 June 2021 The small subs are also used to send small teams of naval special forces to coastal objectives, allowing larger ships to stand off the coastline and remain out of sight. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 20 May 2021 After a 19-day stand off, migrants remaining on board were allowed to disembark. Adam Shaw, Fox News, 18 Apr. 2021

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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Time Traveler for standoff

Time Traveler

The first known use of standoff was in 1603

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Dictionary Entries Near standoff

stand of colors


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Last Updated

29 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Standoff.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Jan. 2022.

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English Language Learners Definition of standoff

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

More from Merriam-Webster on standoff

Nglish: Translation of standoff for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of standoff for Arabic Speakers


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