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

After a four-hour standoff, she was eventually removed from the statue by authorities. Graeme Mcmillan, WIRED, "While You Were Offline: Man, Twitter Loves a Good Civil War Meme, Huh?," 8 July 2018 After a three hour standoff, police officers cornered the woman and helped her down, then took her into custody. Margaret Hartmann, Daily Intelligencer, "Woman Climbs Statue of Liberty to Protest Family Separations, Island Shut Down," 5 July 2018 In a press conference after the standoff, Jones said that Motter and Geran were in business together, but declined to say more about their relationship. Sarah Brookbank,, "Man who led standoff charged with double murder," 27 June 2018 The identity of the man who allegedly shot his mother in Jackson County Friday, prompting a 3-hour SWAT standoff, has been released by the GBI during their initial investigation report into the incident. Zachary Hansen, ajc, "GBI identifies son who allegedly shot his mother before 3-hour SWAT standoff," 23 June 2018 Peter Williams was initially taken into custody Sept 19, 2014, when he was arrested for a home invasion in Harvey where he was involved in a nearly 21-hour standoff. Deanese Williams-harris,, "Cook County Jail detainee charged after officer was attacked in super-max division," 15 June 2018 Meghan Valencia expressed sorrow for the killing of the four children by Gary Lindsey, who holed up with the children in a 21-hour standoff that ended late Monday. Mike Schneider, Fox News, "Doctor: Florida officer shot in standoff is in coma," 13 June 2018 Amid a tense standoff police challenge a man who appears to have a gun. Samantha Ketterer, Houston Chronicle, "Boy, 4, who apparently shot himself, in serious condition," 11 July 2018 And a mutually agreeable resolution might be difficult to find — because, unlike some of Trump’s other trade spats, his standoff with China has real stakes for both nations. Eric Levitz, Daily Intelligencer, "After Trump’s New Tariff Threat, China Seeks Strategy for Retaliation," 11 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 One hunter in Delta told me a crane backed into a burn pile stood off his yellow lab and put the dog off of cranes and geese for the rest of her career. John Schandelmeier, Anchorage Daily News, "Sandhill cranes make their annual short and noisy Interior Alaska stopover," 7 May 2018 As the officer issues multiple warnings with his own firearm drawn, the two stand off until ultimately suspect drops the object in his hands and lays on the ground to submit to arrest. Aric Jenkins, Time, "'Shoot Me in the Head.' Video Footage Shows the Toronto Van Attack Suspect’s Arrest," 23 Apr. 2018 Last year Ecuador granted the 46-year-old citizenship and sought to register him as a diplomat in a bid to solve the stand off with the U.K. Britain’s Foreign Office rejected the petition a day later. Stephan Kueffner,, "Ecuador Cuts WikiLeaks Chief's Internet, to Talk to His Lawyers," 28 Mar. 2018 Malik Newman stood off to the side, between the coaches' room and the door down the hallway. Sam Mellinger, kansascity, "Kansas basketball adds to its history, and how did this all work again? | The Kansas City Star," 25 Mar. 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

12 Sep 2018

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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