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

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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

Weaving in original footage with FX magic, Obi-Wan and Darth Vader's epic standoff aboard the Death Star, ultimately ending in Obi-Wan's demise, is an A+ fan creation. Darren Orf, Popular Mechanics, "This Reimagined Star Wars Fight Scene Is Amazing—but Mostly Makes Me Sad," 8 May 2019 The government of Guatemala attempted to close the Guatemalan-Honduran border to the caravan on October 15; after a standoff of several hours, Guatemalan officials backed down. Dara Lind, Vox, "The migrant caravan, explained," 24 Oct. 2018 After a standoff of about two hours, the migrants began walking again. Fox News, "Honduran migrant caravan crosses Guatemala border, US-bound," 15 Oct. 2018 As Volkswagen AG fought for its survival two years ago, Herbert Diess -- a fresh hire from BMW AG -- appeared headed for a rapid exit after a tense standoff with the company’s powerful labor unions over cost-cutting measures. Chris Reiter,, "VW’s Diess Goes From Lame Duck to Top Dog in Two Years," 11 Apr. 2018 Each bomber releases 20 Assault Breaker standoff missiles. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The Pentagon Is Reviving Cold War “Assault Breaker” Concept to Thwart China, Russia," 4 Mar. 2019 Later Monday, efforts appeared to be underway to de-escalate the standoff. John Hudson, The Seattle Times, "Trump’s vow to ‘devastate’ Turkey’s economy rattles negotiations over Syria," 14 Jan. 2019 How this trade standoff ends is still unclear Both sides are selling this agreement as a sign of progress, but the big issues remain unresolved. Jen Kirby, Vox, "The US and China reach a compromise — but the trade standoff is far from over," 2 Dec. 2018 Some of the officers who worked during the standoff went to the service. Monique Valdes, ajc, "4 children killed in violent police standoff laid to rest in Florida," 23 June 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

23 May 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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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).


highly pertinent or appropriate

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