stiff·​en | \ ˈsti-fən How to pronounce stiffen (audio) \
stiffened; stiffening\ ˈsti-​fə-​niŋ How to pronounce stiffening (audio) , ˈstif-​niŋ \

Definition of stiffen

intransitive verb

: to become stiff or stiffer

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Other Words from stiffen

stiffener \ ˈsti-​fə-​nər How to pronounce stiffener (audio) , ˈstif-​nər \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for stiffen



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Examples of stiffen in a Sentence

She stiffened when he grabbed her shoulder. The dogs stiffened in alarm. The law would stiffen penalties for tax evasion.
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Recent Examples on the Web Fortunately for the Seahawks, the defense stiffened and forced a turnover on downs. oregonlive, "Seattle Seahawks win ugly over the Philadelphia Eagles in a Wild Card playoff: 10 studs and duds," 6 Jan. 2020 But the defense stiffened, forcing three consecutive punts in the second quarter when Michigan seized the lead. Rainer Sabin, Detroit Free Press, "Three questions: Can Michigan football QB Shea Patterson continue his hot streak?," 24 Nov. 2019 The other possibility is that public support for the House’s impeachment inquiry may have stiffened the press’s spine. Washington Post, "The media has turned a corner and is normalizing Trump less. It’s about time.," 21 Oct. 2019 Though Cincinnati stiffened after that, the damage had been done in a 23-17 defeat. David Ginsburg, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Bengals must wait longer for ‘rewarding’ first win," 13 Oct. 2019 But Boris Johnson’s increasingly hardline policies have stiffened their spines. The Economist, "The unlikely Tory rebels," 29 Aug. 2019 But with construction planned to begin in June, the opposition has stiffened—and there is no end in sight to the pending lawsuits. Douglas Main, National Geographic, "In a land of wild cats and scarce water, a battle over mining heats up," 25 Apr. 2019 Resistance to Boeing among some Brazilian lawmakers and military leaders has stiffened since The Wall Street Journal reported last year that the company wanted to partner with Embraer, the backbone of the country’s homegrown defense industry. Jeffrey T. Lewis, WSJ, "Defense Partnership With Embraer Will Test Brazil’s Boeing Appetite," 5 July 2018 But the defense stiffened, and the Browns made the halftime score respectable with the 56-yard TD pass to Landry, who got behind the defense over the middle. Mary Kay Cabot, cleveland, "Freddie Kitchens may be one and done after the Browns’ 33-23 loss to the 2-14 Bengals to fall to 6-10," 29 Dec. 2019

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

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Time Traveler for stiffen

Time Traveler

The first known use of stiffen was in the 15th century

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Statistics for stiffen

Last Updated

20 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Stiffen.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 21 January 2020.

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More Definitions for stiffen


How to pronounce stiffen (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of stiffen

: to stop moving and become completely still especially because of fear, anger, etc.
: to become painful to move or use
: to become more severe or strong or to make (something) more severe or strong


stiff·​en | \ ˈsti-fən How to pronounce stiffen (audio) \
stiffened; stiffening

Kids Definition of stiffen

1 : to make or become stiff or stiffer The paper stiffened as it dried.
2 : to become tense and still He stiffened with suspicion.

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More from Merriam-Webster on stiffen

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for stiffen

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with stiffen

Spanish Central: Translation of stiffen

Nglish: Translation of stiffen for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of stiffen for Arabic Speakers

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