\ ˈstif How to pronounce stiff (audio) \

Definition of stiff

 (Entry 1 of 4)

1a : not easily bent : rigid a stiff collar
b : lacking in suppleness or flexibility stiff muscles
c : impeded in movement used of a mechanisma truck's stiff suspension
c : proud
d(1) : marked by reserve or decorum
(2) : lacking in ease or grace : stilted
3 : hard fought stiff competition
4a(1) : exerting great force a stiff wind
b : potent poured her a stiff drink
5 : of a dense or glutinous consistency : thick
6a : harsh, severe a stiff penalty
b : arduous, rugged stiff terrain
7 : not easily heeled over by an external force (such as the wind) a stiff ship
8 : expensive, steep paid a stiff price



Definition of stiff (Entry 2 of 4)

1 : in a stiff manner : stiffly
2 : to an extreme degree : severely scared stiff bored stiff
3 : close enough to the hole for an easy putt in golf hit it stiff and tapped it in for an easy birdie



Definition of stiff (Entry 3 of 4)

1 : corpse
b : a member of the working class especially : a blue-collar worker
c : person a lucky stiff especially : a stodgy or excessively decorous person


stiffed; stiffing; stiffs

Definition of stiff (Entry 4 of 4)

transitive verb

1a : to refuse to pay or tip stiffed the waiter
b : cheat stiffed him in a business deal
c : stick sense 7a stiffed us with the bar bill
2 : snub sense 3 stiffed sportswriters after the game

intransitive verb

: to fail commercially the movie stiffed at the box office

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Other Words from stiff


stiffish \ ˈsti-​fish How to pronounce stiffish (audio) \ adjective
stiffly adverb
stiffness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for stiff

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Adjective

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Choose the Right Synonym for stiff


stiff, rigid, inflexible mean difficult to bend. stiff may apply to any degree of this condition. stretching keeps your muscles from becoming stiff rigid applies to something so stiff that it cannot be bent without breaking. a rigid surfboard inflexible stresses lack of suppleness or pliability. ski boots with inflexible soles

Examples of stiff in a Sentence

Adjective When I got out of bed this morning my back was stiff as a board. Beat the egg whites until they are stiff. Noun That poor stiff never gets a break. They have the kind of luxuries the average working stiff can't afford. Verb the actress has a reputation for stiffing the press at red-carpet events
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective But the stiff challenge awaiting Kittle in his first playoff experience doesn’t appear to bother him one bit. Rusty Simmons,, "49ers’ George Kittle unflinching about facing stingy Minnesota defense," 8 Jan. 2020 Those challenges were set several months ago, when Omar Abuhamdeh, Jordan Garland and the Bears faced stiff challenges in the summer from St. Vincent-St. Matt Goul, cleveland, "No. 19 North Royalton seizing control of the Suburban League," 8 Jan. 2020 Prediction Vikings 20, Bears 16 For only giving away 1.5 points, Minnesota (-129) is a little stiff. John Holler, USA TODAY Sportsbook Wire, "Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings odds, picks and best bets," 26 Dec. 2019 Fogarty has counseled the befuddled masses who turn to her for grammar and language guidance, including this writer, not to be too stiff, generally. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, "The impeachment debate has sparked a linguistic war over the word “irregardless”," 19 Dec. 2019 The competition hasn’t always been stiff, but after last season’s stunted, stuttering offensive performances, there have been encouraging returns on this side of the ball. Zach Osterman, Indianapolis Star, "IU basketball stock watch: This past week showed extremes of Hoosiers' potential, concerns," 9 Dec. 2019 By hand, stir in remaining flour (dough will be stiff). Nancy Stohs, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "14 Holiday Cookie Contest winning recipes, ahead of this year's Dec. 4 reveal," 29 Nov. 2019 Although the time limits were stiff, only a few failed to make it, but a handful dropped out during the ascent. Simon Akam, Outside Online, "You Won’t Pass Chamonix’s Mountain Guiding Test," 27 Nov. 2019 Bozeman was good as a straight-ahead run blocker, but was stiff pulling and pass blocking. Mike Preston,, "Preston: As Lamar Jackson hype continues to build, don’t overlook the Ravens offensive line paving the way," 19 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb The Pistons were also without Reggie Jackson (stiff back) on Saturday. Vince Ellis, Detroit Free Press, "Pistons' Derrick Rose awesome again, but mistakes lead to 117-111 loss to 76ers," 27 Oct. 2019 Mariota has heard a lot from friends and fans on how he stiff-armed Jaguars safety Barry Church. USA TODAY, "X-factor: A running Mariota gives Titans another dimension," 3 Jan. 2018 Their valuable middle infielders — shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera (sore left knee) and second baseman Neil Walker (stiff back) — are dealing with the reappearance of injuries. James Wagner, New York Times, "Walk-off Homer by Yoenis Cespedes Lifts Mets in Crucial Series Opener," 29 Aug. 2016 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun This, of course, might prove nothing more than that football coaches, like other working stiffs, look for reasons to avoid their families at the end of the holidays, too. Mike Finger,, "Dallas Cowboys’ coaching saga veering into absurdity," 4 Jan. 2020 The animal had a stiff and firm tail, that was thick at the base. Fox News, "Tasmanian tiger seen 80 years after it was thought to have gone extinct: report," 22 Oct. 2019 Detroit is a stiff on the road, going 1-5-1 straight up and 2-5 ATS away from home. John Holler, USA TODAY Sportsbook Wire, "Detroit Lions at Denver Broncos odds, picks and best bets," 20 Dec. 2019 One is that his erratic actions are tactical moves: unconventional behavior that shakes up the political and diplomatic stiffs, and makes things happen. Amy Davidson Sorkin, The New Yorker, "Trump’s Message: His Critics Are the Crazy Ones," 18 Oct. 2019 In the other corner was Buckley, tall, light-skinned, hair tightly combed and jaw stiff, his words chiseled with his signature transatlantic accent. Gabrielle Bellot, The Atlantic, "The Famous Baldwin-Buckley Debate Still Matters Today," 2 Dec. 2019 The fault would seem to lie with Phillips and co-scribe Scott Silver, both of whom seem far too enamored of their combustible, of-the-moment conceit, and perhaps scared stiff by it, to responsibly handle the material. Isaac Feldberg, Fortune, "What to Watch This Weekend In Theaters and On Demand, From ‘Joker’ to ‘Low Tide’," 4 Oct. 2019 In one episode, Ashenden reluctantly listens as a stiff, middle-aged diplomat unexpectedly bares his soul. Michael Dirda, Washington Post, "‘Ashenden’: the perfect late summer escape read, and a classic," 31 July 2019 The pacing of the first act is fast and furious, setting up the Jersey boys’ origins as juvenile delinquents — OK, felons — the high stakes of failure, and their skill at capturing in music the emotions of working-class stiffs just like them. Terry Byrne,, "‘Jersey Boys’ has the hits, and a captivating story to tell, too," 12 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb For Paul Chepkwony, the governor of Kericho County, these plantations are a reminder of the way the British stiffed his Kipsigis tribe of their land. The Economist, "A row over who owns Kenya’s land is making life hard for foreign firms," 21 Nov. 2019 Liz goes to punch Janet (Olivia Sandoval), who has stiffed the employees at the restaurant Liz manages, and Janet turns out to be a hologram. Los Angeles Times, "‘Lodge 49’ is too good for this world. Which is exactly why AMC should keep it around," 15 Oct. 2019 During the Revolutionary War, Hopkins disobeyed the orders of Congress, plundered British weaponry and awarded it to his politician friends, and salaried himself while stiffing his crew. Dan Zak, Washington Post, "Whistleblowers walk among us. Now one has gotten in Trump’s head.," 27 Oct. 2019 Trump the businessman has cultivated quite a documented reputation for stiffing folks. Rubén Rosario, Twin Cities, "Rosario: On a slain boy, security bills and baseball trades," 10 Oct. 2019 Last week, he was sued by a chef who claims Brown stiffed him to the tune of $38,000 for a big party Brown threw in 2018. Scott Ostler,, "Is Antonio Brown’s helmet half-full or half-empty?," 18 Aug. 2019 For decades, former employees and vendors of US president Donald Trump’s hotels and casinos have accused him of not honoring his obligations and stiffing them on unpaid bills and wages. Oliver Staley, Quartz, "Trump announces a new 10% tariff on billions of dollars worth of Chinese imports," 1 Aug. 2019 Morris recalls, saying she was constantly stiffed by club owners who never paid her. Jason Ikeler, Harper's BAZAAR, "Maren Morris Is Becoming the Voice for Women in Country Music," 31 July 2019 People who provide services to the government for pay, including public employees, get stiffed. Los Angeles Times, "Column: With the debt ceiling fight, Congress and Trump are playing with fire -- again," 16 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'stiff.' 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 stiff


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


circa 1859, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1950, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for stiff


Middle English stif, from Old English stīf; akin to Middle Dutch stijf stiff, Latin stipare to press together, Greek steibein to tread on

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Time Traveler for stiff

Time Traveler

The first known use of stiff was before the 12th century

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Statistics for stiff

Last Updated

14 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Stiff.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 27 January 2020.

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More Definitions for stiff


How to pronounce stiff (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of stiff

 (Entry 1 of 4)

: difficult to bend or move
: painful to move or use also : showing pain in movement or use
: thick and difficult to stir or pour



English Language Learners Definition of stiff (Entry 2 of 4)

informal : very much : to an extreme degree



English Language Learners Definition of stiff (Entry 3 of 4)

: the body of a dead person
: a person who you think is lucky, unlucky, etc.
: an ordinary or dull person



English Language Learners Definition of stiff (Entry 4 of 4)

US, informal : to not give as much money as you should give to (someone)


\ ˈstif How to pronounce stiff (audio) \
stiffer; stiffest

Kids Definition of stiff

1 : not easily bent And because Sarah's clothes were stiff and heavy, the Indian woman made her clothes of deerskin …— Alice Dalgliesh, The Courage of Sarah Noble
2 : not easily moved stiff muscles
3 : firm and not changeable stiff determination
4 : not friendly, relaxed, or graceful in manner … how tense Phoebe's whole family seemed, how tidy, how respectable, how … stiff.— Sharon Creech, Walk Two Moons
5 : powerful, strong a stiff wind
6 : not flowing easily : thick Beat the egg whites until stiff.
7 : severe sense 3 a stiff penalty
8 : hard to do or deal with : difficult a stiff test

Other Words from stiff

stiffly adverb walk stiffly


\ ˈstif How to pronounce stiff (audio) \

Medical Definition of stiff

: lacking in suppleness stiff muscles

Other Words from stiff

stiffness noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on stiff

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for stiff

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with stiff

Spanish Central: Translation of stiff

Nglish: Translation of stiff for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of stiff for Arabic Speakers

Comments on stiff

What made you want to look up stiff? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


one that suddenly gains wealth or power

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