stand·​off | \ ˈstand-ˌȯf \

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


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

The dungeon master has a real military In a sense, the caravan standoff is all conservative role-playing, a set of tribal bonding rituals and shared narratives built around group identity and hostility toward outsiders. David Roberts, Vox, "The caravan “invasion” and America’s epistemic crisis," 2 Nov. 2018 The standoff is not unlike the public spat between Apple and the FBI that began when authorities ordered the iPhone maker to help them break into a phone belonging to one of the perpetrators of the 2015 San Bernardino, California shooting. Chris Welch, The Verge, "US reportedly pressuring Facebook to break Messenger’s encryption over MS-13 investigation," 17 Aug. 2018 The latest standoff is over a demand by Mr. Seehofer that Germany turn back at the border migrants who are already registered elsewhere in the European Union, to ensure security in the country. New York Times, "Germany’s Merkel Seemed to Get a Reprieve Over Migrants. It Didn’t Last.," 1 July 2018 The standoff is entering its fourth hour at the Knights Inn in the 2900 block of Lawrenceville Highway. Chelsea Prince, ajc, "BREAKING: SWAT standoff forces evacuations at DeKalb County motel," 18 June 2018 The standoff is a replay of tensions that have periodically bubbled up between Merkel and Seehofer since the height of the refugee crisis in 2015 and 2016, only this time there is no obvious way out. Patrick Donahue,, "Five Ways Merkel’s Coalition Crisis Could Blow Up or Blow Over," 15 June 2018 And despite kissing the Barcelona badge as his side went 2-0 up against Roma during their 4-1 Champions League win in midweek, Balague has revealed in a Sky Sports' Q&A session that the standoff between both parties is ongoing., "​Spanish Football Expert Claims Umtiti Has One Month to Decide on Barca Future Amid Man Utd Links," 7 Apr. 2018 Court documents show the standoff with officers was brief. Michael Gordon, charlotteobserver, "A series of mistakes by panicked police led to a Charlotte man's death, lawyer says | Charlotte Observer," 3 Apr. 2018 After an hours-long standoff, Hollie was found dead inside the home. Kim Chatelain,, "Mobile, Ala., police officer killed in line of duty: report," 21 Feb. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 Suspects in the shooting were arrested after a SWAT stand off at home on Lanecrest Drive, reported the Observer's news partner WBTV. Mark Price, charlotteobserver, "2 dead, 1 critical, 3 more wounded in Mother's Day weekend of gun violence in Charlotte | Charlotte Observer," 13 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

14 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

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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esteemed in general opinion

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