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

Keep scrolling for more

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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

China’s economy slowed to the weakest pace since quarterly data began in 1992 amid the ongoing trade standoff with the U.S., while monthly indicators provided signs that a stabilization is emerging. Fortune, "China’s Economy Grows at Its Slowest Rate Since 1992," 15 July 2019 As night fell, a tense standoff formed between protesters and police officers in riot gear. New York Times, "Hong Kong Protesters Clash With Police Inside Shopping Mall," 14 July 2019 Following a standoff that lasted several hours on the street, police attempted to clear crowds off the roads by sending in riot police, eventually pursuing protesters who hadn’t dispersed from the scene into the shopping mall, New Town Plaza. Isabella Steger, Quartz, "Photos: Hong Kong police fight protesters in a luxury shopping mall," 14 July 2019 State investigators have identified the five police officers who fired their rifles during a July 2 standoff in Eagan that left a 23-year-old man dead. Christopher Magan, Twin Cities, "5 officers fired rifles in Eagan standoff that left 23-year-old dead, BCA says," 13 July 2019 For the fourth straight day, Alaska state legislators remained at a divisive standoff over where to hold their special session, stalling crucial work as deadlines approach and as frustration mounts among Alaskans. James Brooks, Anchorage Daily News, "Big spending cuts and deadlines loom as the standoff continues among Alaska legislators and governor," 12 July 2019 The brief but tense standoff stemmed from the U.K.'s role in seizing the Iranian tanker. Fox News, "Britain will be ‘slapped in the face’ for seizure of Iranian tanker, cleric says," 12 July 2019 Donald Glover also participates in a face to face standoff with his character, Simba, the protagonist of the film. Joelle Goldstein,, "Twinning! Beyoncé Rocks Matching Sparkly Looks with Daughter Blue Ivy at The Lion King Premiere," 10 July 2019 Strongest veto powers in nation Wisconsin governors have the strongest veto powers in the country, allowing them to hold the upper hand in budget standoffs. Molly Beck, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "GOP lawmakers spark new clash over Tony Evers' authority with constitutional amendment to limit veto power," 9 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

But the one that stays with Larry Donnelly is spying Noel, standing off to the side, crying, overcome with emotion. Kevin Cullen,, "Noel Whelan died last night," 11 July 2019 Harris drum-walked her way into a pre-convention rally, where Jesse Jackson stood off to the side of the stage, grinning like a proud uncle. Bob Moser, The New Yorker, "The High Stakes for Kamala Harris in the South Carolina Primary," 26 June 2019 On Monday, this became evident when thousands of young people gathered outside the city government headquarters resulting in a tense stand off with riot police, hours before the official march was due to begin. James Griffiths, CNN, "The fight over Hong Kong's extradition law could reopen divisions," 1 July 2019 The grownups usually stand off to the side, holding shopping bags or the kids' shoes. Arizona Republic, azcentral, "Summer in Arizona: Locals share 100 fun ways to survive the 100-degree heat in Phoenix," 1 July 2019 Gregory Levinsky, Detroit Free Press Brooke Lashley stood off the green, rubbing her hands together, as tears formed in her eyes. Jeff Seidel, Detroit Free Press, "Meet the comeback kid who won the Rocket Mortgage Classic in the comeback city," 30 June 2019 About 15 minutes into the stand off, those on the Democratic side crossed the street and an intense shouting match ensued until police broke it up. Tonya Alanez,, "Face offs get heated under blazing sun in buildup to Democratic debate," 27 June 2019 Afterward, once the cameras left, the coach stood off to the side, recounting the emotions of the previous day. Chris Ballard,, "A New Beginning: The Warriors Face an Uncertain Future," 15 June 2019 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

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about standoff

Statistics for standoff

Last Updated

18 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for standoff

The first known use of standoff was in 1603

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for standoff



English Language Learners Definition of standoff

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on standoff

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


to complain fretfully

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What's that Smell?! Quiz

  • wide eyed dog smelling rose
  • Someone who is hircine smells like a:
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!