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 bar-owner shot Monday afternoon after pointing a gun at SWAT officers during a standoff is facing a charge of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, an arrest affidavit said. David Harris,, "'I do not negotiate whatsoever,' armed pub owner said, before being shot by SWAT officer: report," 10 July 2018 Neighbors were evacuated and two streets were closed during the standoff. Nathan J. Fish, azcentral, "Man arrested after 5-hour standoff in Flagstaff," 27 June 2018 Two police officers were shot Saturday night during a standoff in San Diego, authorities said. Bradford Betz, Fox News, "Two police officers reported shot in San Diego; 1 suspect in custody," 24 June 2018 Officer Valencia was shot Sunday night while responding to a domestic violence call at an apartment in Orlando during a standoff that stretched into Monday night. Faith Karimi, CNN, "Orlando officer shot in deadly standoff is fighting for his life, wife says," 14 June 2018 Cooper was described as a recruiter, calling men to come to the Oregon refuge with guns and to Bunkerville, Nevada, in April 2014 during a standoff with federal agents outside the ranch of patriarch Cliven Bundy. Maxine Bernstein,, "Prosecutors to recommend Oregon refuge occupier Blaine Cooper be sentenced to time served," 6 June 2018 The Acme on Park Boulevard was placed on lockdown for about 3 ½ hours during the standoff and employees and customers were move to safe location during that time, said Dana Ward, an Acme spokeswoman. Staff Report,, "Standoff with man claiming to have bomb ends peacefully in Wildwood," 4 June 2018 Samantha Urke said her roommate, Stevante Clark, put her furniture and other belongings on the front yard during a standoff with police, and barricaded the street with trash cans. Anita Chabria, sacbee, "Police were called to handle an escalating mental-health crisis. This is why they backed off | The Sacramento Bee," 20 May 2018 In real life, only LaVoy Finicum was killed during the Bundy standoff. Longreads, "The Dying Days of the New West," 8 May 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

7 Nov 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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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).


a private place of worship

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