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

Minnesota Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles is wading into a standoff between state regulators and an embattled air-polluting factory in White Bear Township. Ryan Faircloth, Twin Cities, "State legislative auditor will investigate MPCA for its handling of Water Gremlin scandal," 6 Sep. 2019 The 41-day standoff between Dallas and the two-time NFL rushing champion came with the Cowboys holding high expectations coming off their first playoff win with Elliott and quarterback Dak Prescott. Schuyler Dixon, Houston Chronicle, "Source: Cowboys, Ezekiel Elliott end holdout, agree on deal," 4 Sep. 2019 And in June, tensions between the US and Iran escalated into a military standoff after an American drone was shot down by Iran over the Strait of Hormuz, one of the world's most vital shipping routes. Nada Bashir, CNN, "UK Navy to escort tankers through Strait of Hormuz amid Iran crisis," 25 July 2019 The encounter turned into an eight-hour standoff between the police and Ramos, who allegedly wielded two assault rifles, a handgun and a shotgun and repeatedly exchanged gunfire with law enforcement. Alexei Koseff,, "Man accused of killing rookie Sacramento police officer appears in court," 24 June 2019 Singer Rihanna posted about the Sudan massacre where over 100 people were reportedly killed when protests turned into a standoff with the military. Hussein Malla And Samy Magdy, USA TODAY, "Sudan’s former President Omar al-Bashir seen in public for first time since ouster," 14 June 2019 Her protest turned into a nearly three-hour standoff with police., "Here Is Everything We Know About The Badass Black Woman Who Climbed The Statue Of Liberty," 5 July 2018 Two-and-a-half hours into a standoff with a woman armed with a sword in Kansas City, North, police on Thursday afternoon shot and killed her, police confirmed. Max Londberg And Robert A. Cronkleton, kansascity, "Police shoot, kill woman possibly armed with sword in Kansas City's Northland," 14 June 2018 The man then lead officers into a daylong standoff that ended with the man shooting and killing four children: Irayan, 11; Lillia, 10; Aidan, 6; and Dove, 22 months. Orlando Sentinel,, "In her own words: Meghan Valencia talks about her husband, injured Orlando police officer Kevin Valencia," 13 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Riot police stand off against demonstrators inside New Town Plaza shopping mall, operated by Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd., during a protest in the Shatin district of Hong Kong, China, on Sunday, July 14, 2019. Time, "Hong Kong's Protestors Have Their Own Special Slang. Here's a Glossary of Some Common Terms," 6 Sep. 2019 Jeff Faughender, Louisville Courier Journal During a 9 a.m. workout, Mike Sirignano is standing off to the side, observing a handful of Louisville football players. Cameron Teague Robinson, The Courier-Journal, "Competition fuels Louisville football strength coach Mike Sirignano's plan for the team," 15 July 2019 As the trailer itself ended with flashes of clips from various points in his life, Scott stood off-stage at one of his concerts beside Jenner and their daughter as the massive crowd chanted for the rapper. Jen Juneau,, "Kylie Jenner Shares Clips from Travis Scott's New Documentary Showing the Day Stormi Was Born," 28 Aug. 2019 Senior quarterback Cade McConnell answered most of the questions, while freshman quarterback Malachi Nelson, who Fenton said already has an offer from Auburn, stood off to the side. Matt Szabo, Daily Pilot, "CdM football shows it belongs at media day with top O.C. public schools," 14 Aug. 2019 Steve Kerr will obviously adjust his approach this season, but paying a max salary to have Russell stand off the ball or feeding him at the expense of Steph both seem like subpar options. Rohan Nadkarni,, "The D'Angelo Russell Trade Sets Off Complications for Warriors," 1 July 2019 Scott kept his hands clasped behind his back and refused to shake Sun’s hand, standing off on his own while the other medalists joined Sun to pose for photographers. Beth Harris,, "China’s Sun Yang gets shunned again on podium at world swimming championships," 23 July 2019 But the one that stays with Larry Donnelly is spying Noel, standing off to the side, crying, overcome with emotion. Kevin Cullen,, "Noel Whelan died last night," 11 July 2019 Harris drum-walked her way into a pre-convention rally, where Jesse Jackson stood off to the side of the stage, grinning like a proud uncle. Bob Moser, The New Yorker, "The High Stakes for Kamala Harris in the South Carolina Primary," 26 June 2019

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 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).


one from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

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