1 of 3


stand·​off ˈstand-ˌȯf How to pronounce standoff (audio)
: tie, deadlock
the two teams played to a standoff
: a counterbalancing effect
: the act of standing off


2 of 3


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

stand off

3 of 3


stood off; standing off; stands off

intransitive verb

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

transitive verb

: to keep from advancing : repel

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
Recent Examples on the Web
There’s no sign the two sides are getting close to resolving the standoff. Todd Spangler, Variety, 8 Sep. 2023 The contracts are meant to help investors hedge new debt sales by the U.S. government, which is financing a fiscal deficit and refilling its coffers following the debt-ceiling standoff. Eric Wallerstein, WSJ, 5 Sep. 2023 The standoff ended with most of the mutinous players returning to the field. Rachel Chaundler, New York Times, 5 Sep. 2023 The standoff boils down to Charter’s demand that Disney provide its subscribers access to its alluring direct-to-consumer services at no additional charge or offer more flexibility on bundling. Oliver Darcy, CNN, 5 Sep. 2023 Over the last 40 months, the Chinese and Indian militaries have been locked in a series of heated—and sometimes lethal—border standoffs, as China works to grab Himalayan territory from India. Sushant Singh, Foreign Affairs, 4 Sep. 2023 The studios aren’t alone in enlisting new PR reinforcements for the current standoff: SAG-AFTRA has hired Precision Strategies, led by Stephanie Cutter, who served as deputy campaign manager for Barack Obama’s 2012 presidential run. Gary Baum, The Hollywood Reporter, 25 Aug. 2023 And 75 officers in Pittsburgh were placed on leave after a standoff. Elizabeth Robinson, NBC News, 25 Aug. 2023 What McCord set in motion reverberates in US cattle country today, where conflicts over land use have led to armed standoffs and death. WIRED, 26 Aug. 2023
Pritchett was not wearing pads and stood off in the corner of the endzone in Auburn’s indoor practice facility while drills took place around him. Matt Cohen |, al, 29 Aug. 2023 The Mocky Horror Picture Show’s bit is to stand off stage and provide running snarky commentary. Tommy Cummings, Dallas News, 29 Aug. 2023 The team of James and Kennedy got off to a bumpy start, with James getting going on preparing the meal as Kennedy stood off to the sidelines, waiting for her turn to tag in, and spending her time telling James to hurry up. Kturnqui, oregonlive, 24 Aug. 2023 In the pic, Lipa stands off to the right next to a smiling Kate McKinnon and Issa Rae, as Margot Robbie crouches nearby and waves to the camera. Quinci Legardye, Harper's BAZAAR, 22 July 2023 The sun standing off with Pluto keys you into potent self-awareness. USA TODAY, 21 July 2023 Shortly after arriving at the venue, Khloé and long-time friend Malika Haqq stood off to the side to adjust the Good American founder’s dress. Liza Esquibias, Peoplemag, 20 July 2023 Luna then stands off against expansive Jupiter, avoiding growth and new horizons. Tarot Astrologers, Chicago Tribune, 6 Apr. 2023 Unconscious communications can slip out when the Gemini moon stands off with Saturn. USA TODAY, 16 June 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'standoff.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use


circa 1835, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1837, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1591, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of standoff was in 1591

Dictionary Entries Near standoff

Cite this Entry

“Standoff.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


: a contest or game in which there is no winner : draw

More from Merriam-Webster on standoff

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