\ 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 mechanism a truck's stiff suspension
2a : firm, resolute
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
2a : vagrant, tramp
b : a member of the working class especially : a blue-collar worker
c : person a lucky stiff especially : a stodgy or excessively decorous person
3 : flop, failure


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

inflexible, rigid, stiffened, unyielding

Synonyms: Noun

bones, cadaver, carcass, corpse, corpus, corse [archaic], relics, remains

Synonyms: Verb

cold-shoulder, cut, high-hat, slight, snub, stiff-arm

Antonyms: Adjective

flexible, floppy, pliable, pliant, supple, yielding

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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


When I got out of bed this morning my back was stiff as a board. Beat the egg whites until they are stiff.


That poor stiff never gets a break. They have the kind of luxuries the average working stiff can't afford.


the actress has a reputation for stiffing the press at red-carpet events
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Like always, Kentucky will face stiff competition from traditional powers to keep its best commitments in the fold – especially Rogers – but for now it’s easy to dream of a historic recruiting cycle. Jon Hale, The Courier-Journal, "Could 2020 Kentucky football recruiting class be Mark Stoops' highest-rated?," 21 May 2019 Newsletter Sign-up Danske Bank’s share price rose 4% percent Thursday as some investors concluded that the bank was unlikely to face stiff penalties from either Danish or American regulators. Drew Hinshaw, WSJ, "Denmark Reopens Investigation into Russia-Linked Money Laundering Case," 20 Sep. 2018 Among other changes in EU law, violations of the GDPR also provide stiff penalties for breaches of European rules: up to four percent of worldwide revenue, or €20 million, whichever is higher for large companies like Facebook. Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica, "Facebook removes 1.5 billion users from protection of EU privacy law," 20 Apr. 2018 One option, says Sir Simon, is that EU member governments could extend non-dollar lines of credit and credit guarantees to European companies that would face stiff penalties for sticking to plans to do business in Iran. The Economist, "The deal that curtails Iran’s nuclear ambitions seems doomed," 28 Mar. 2018 Imposter syndrome had stiff competition against my self-hatred at that point. Christy Carlson Romano, Teen Vogue, "Christy Carlson Romano: My Private Breakdown," 28 May 2019 Initial plans for a rapid withdrawal were slowed amid stiff resistance from the Pentagon, Congress and U.S. allies. Dion Nissenbaum, WSJ, "Erdogan Rebuffs U.S. Call to Protect Kurds, Complicating Effort to Leave Syria," 8 Jan. 2019 Amazon’s decision to build a new facility in Long Island City, Queens, as well as in Northern Virginia, has been met with stiff resistance. Colin Lecher, The Verge, "Politicians and protestors are looking for ways to stop Amazon’s New York HQ2," 14 Nov. 2018 Some of the proposals are likely to meet stiff resistance from federal employee unions, which already are at odds with the administration over a series of executive orders the White House issued in May to limit their power. Anchorage Daily News, "White House to propose merging Labor and Education into one agency," 21 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

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

Recently, though, a new crop of companies has emerged with the aim of helping working stiffs take their jobs on the road. Elizabeth G. Dunn, WSJ, "How to Work Remotely—In an Exotic New City Each Month," 29 Aug. 2018 The dolls are realistically animated, using the faces of real actors (including Merritt Weaver and Janelle Monáe) atop stiff, plasticine bodies. Jesse Hassenger, The Verge, "Welcome to Marwen is Robert Zemeckis’ most revealing movie — and his worst," 20 Dec. 2018 Potential investors are invited to rise from hardworking stiffs to those traveling first class to their vacation homes. WSJ, "There Are Reasons for Full Startup Disclosures," 22 July 2018 Correa has been nursing a stiff back since going on the disabled list June 26. Matt Young, Houston Chronicle, "Astros' Carlos Correa out until after All-Star break," 13 July 2018 By the end of spring training, despite a stiff back, Doc showed everyone his stuff was more than major league ready. Davey Johnson,, "What It Was Like to Manage a Rookie Doc Gooden, the Gritty Wally Backman and the New York Mets," 1 June 2018 Two stiffs staring at eternity was perhaps a bit more dramatic than a letter, telegram or text. John Kass,, "Silence in Chicago’s mayoral race: The missing Latino candidate and the Sun-Times chairman’s deal with Rahm’s money man," 12 May 2018 Big Ben: bomb double, medium-size, dark red flowers grow on stiff stems and are fragrant; foliage stays handsome through summer. The Editors Of Organic Life, Good Housekeeping, "How To Grow Your Own Gorgeous Peonies," 9 Mar. 2017 Artist Dayanita Singh was fed up with the stiff, sterile environments her photography was being exhibited in. Julissa Treviño, Smithsonian, "Pocket-Sized Exhibition Shows Museum Experience Is Not One Size Fits All," 20 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The Trump campaign could face legal troubles for stiffing the bill. Erin Corbett, Fortune, "Trump's MAGA Rallies Cost Big Bucks and Cities Are Stuck Footing the Bills," 15 June 2019 Mr Pawlowski is not the only investor who says he was stiffed by local or national governments in central and eastern Europe. The Economist, "Disgruntled investors are losing patience with central Europe," 8 June 2019 Documentarian Kathleen Glynn is cranking up the Fahrenheit on her fellow filmmaker-ex husband Michael Moore, hauling him to court for allegedly stiffing her on profits from their movie projects. Julia Marsh, Fox News, "Ex-wife claims Michael Moore stiffed her out of movie profits," 7 Sep. 2018 Compare that figure with the percentage of Gen Xers and baby boomers who admitted stiffing the wait staff: 1.8 percent and 4.4 percent, respectively. Tim Carman,, "Millennials tip the least, but it may not be for the reasons you think," 7 July 2018 Compare that figure with the percentage of Gen Xers and baby boomers who admitted stiffing the wait staff: 1.8 percent and 4.4 percent, respectively. Tim Carman,, "Millennials tip the least, but it may not be for the reasons you think," 7 July 2018 Last month, a federal bankruptcy court ordered Eagan Avenatti to pay $10 million to attorney Jason Frank, who used to work at the firm and claimed the company stiffed him on the first installment of a $4.85 million settlement. Brooke Singman, Fox News, "Stormy Daniels' legal fund could be targeted in case against attorney Avenatti," 13 June 2018 Compare that figure with the percentage of Gen Xers and baby boomers who admitted stiffing the wait staff: 1.8 percent and 4.4 percent, respectively. Tim Carman,, "Millennials tip the least, but it may not be for the reasons you think," 7 July 2018 Compare that figure with the percentage of Gen Xers and baby boomers who admitted stiffing the wait staff: 1.8 percent and 4.4 percent, respectively. Tim Carman,, "Millennials tip the least, but it may not be for the reasons you think," 7 July 2018

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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Dictionary Entries near stiff






stiff aster


Statistics for stiff

Last Updated

17 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for stiff

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

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More Definitions for stiff



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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with stiff

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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).


behavior toward others

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