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

Keep scrolling for more

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
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The incident set off a weeks-long standoff between Iran and the West before both ships were eventually released. Washington Post, "Iran denies its seizure of South Korean tanker is hostage-taking, complains of money owed," 5 Jan. 2021 The plans have been mired in a political standoff between President Trump and Democratic leaders for the past four years. New York Times, "New Train Hall Opens at Penn Station, Echoing Building’s Former Glory," 30 Dec. 2020 But signing the bill into law prevents another crisis of Trump’s own creation and ends a standoff with his own party during the final days of his administration. The Associated Press,, "Trump signs coronavirus relief bill; debate continues over size of stimulus checks," 28 Dec. 2020 Meanwhile, President Donald Trump signed a $900 billion COVID-19 package Sunday night after days of drama, ending a standoff with his own Republican party. Chicago Tribune Staff,, "Daywatch: Pandemic’s lasting changes for food industry, pot expungements lagging in Illinois and Bears a win away from playoffs," 28 Dec. 2020 The payments are part of a $900 billion pandemic relief package that would end a long standoff in Washington with one of the biggest rescue bills in U.S. history. Ashley Shaffer, USA TODAY, "What: $600 (for most). When? Next week (maybe).," 21 Dec. 2020 The deal came about after a months-long standoff that followed passage in March of the largest in a series of pandemic relief packages: a $1.8 trillion mix of spending and tax breaks that represented the biggest such measure in U.S. history. Erik Wasson,, "Congress Poised for Vote on $900 Billion Pandemic Relief Plan," 21 Dec. 2020 The agreement ends a months-long standoff between the companies, which were at odds over the financial terms for Roku to carry the service. Ryan Faughnder, Los Angeles Times, "HBO Max sets a deal to finally get on Roku devices," 16 Dec. 2020 Amid the ruins of an empire worn down by the long smoldering standoff of the Cold War are scattered jewels of technology. Abe Dane, Popular Mechanics, "The Russian Wingship Future That Never Took Flight," 5 Nov. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb McConnell had earlier unveiled a new bill loaded up with Trump's other priorities as a possible off-ramp for the stand off. Lisa Mascaro, ajc, "GOP-led Senate rejects vote on Trump's push for $2K checks," 30 Dec. 2020 During the consulate stand off earlier this year, some Chinese state media publications called for the Hong Kong consulate to be closed, accusing the US of running influence operations out of it. James Griffiths, CNN, "Hong Kong teenage activist detained after reportedly planning to claim asylum at US consulate," 28 Oct. 2020 Stuckey’s started in Georgia during the 1930s, selling an overflow of pecans from the Stuckey family farm at a little stand off the highway. Kaitlyn Yarborough, Southern Living, "Let's Talk About Old-Fashioned Pecan Log Rolls, the Southern Roadside Treat We Love So Much," 9 June 2020 Wright's stand off with law enforcement from both Arizona and Nevada lasted for about an hour. Richard Ruelas, azcentral, "Plea deal rejected for QAnon follower who drove armored vehicle onto bridge near Hoover Dam," 1 June 2020 The 1x optic has a 3 MOA dot, weighs 1.1 ounces, is 1.8-inches long and stands off a pic rail about 1.5 inches. The Editors, Outdoor Life, "The Outdoor Life Father’s Day Gift Guide," 1 June 2020 In Atlanta, hundreds of frustrated residents stood off with police on Friday night at the CNN headquarters while buildings were set ablaze in Minneapolis for a second straight night. Spencer Neale, Washington Examiner, "'Melee' in LA: Protesters trade blows with police in streets of California," 29 May 2020 Unlike the three major fall festivals — Venice, Telluride and Toronto — Cannes stands off to the side of the American Oscar season. Manohla Dargis, New York Times, "What Do We Lose When Cannes Is Canceled?," 12 May 2020 Bisagno didn’t know but fellow keeper Leslie Rao, standing off camera, did. Steve Rubenstein,, "Would you pay to watch giraffes and monkeys while sheltered in place? Oakland Zoo is banking on it," 4 Apr. 2020

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

Time Traveler for standoff

Time Traveler

The first known use of standoff was in 1603

See more words from the same year

Statistics for standoff

Last Updated

17 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Standoff.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jan. 2021.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for standoff


How to pronounce stand off (audio)

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

Slippery Words Quiz—Changing with the Times

  • ducreux self portrait yawning
  • What is an earlier meaning of nice?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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