stiffen

verb
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

Synonyms

harden, harshen, strengthen, toughen

Antonyms

ameliorate, ease

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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

Rather than peel away from Kavanaugh, many GOP senators seemed to stiffen their resolve. Lisa Mascaro, The Seattle Times, "Faced with second accuser, Republicans fight for Kavanaugh," 24 Sep. 2018 More than a year later Moxon noticed her teenager stiffening up anytime a man got near her and asked what was wrong. Jason Schmidt, Glamour, "The Army of Women Who Took Down Larry Nassar," 30 Oct. 2018 That's assuming Hamels' neck didn't stiffen up again watching all those Yankees homers and doubles. Jeff Wilson, star-telegram, "Rangers Reaction: Is homer a sign Odor is trending the right way? | Fort Worth Star-Telegram," 21 May 2018 Portland, Oregon became the first city to abolish its gang list and, last year, California passed a bill to stiffen the criteria for adding someone to the CalGang database and to regularly audit the list. Jacqueline Serrato, chicagotribune.com, "Lawsuit seeks mechanisms to contest individuals' inclusion in Chicago gang list," 19 June 2018 My toes would lose feeling twenty minutes into the two-hour affair, my back would sing, my neck would stiffen. James Lynch, Popular Mechanics, "The Joys of Shoveling Snow," 3 Dec. 2018 Taking the monocoque of Mercedes-Benz E 63 S station wagon as a starting point, the GT 63 version applies a variety of stiffening elements and added structure to the front clip and transmission tunnel. Dan Neil, WSJ, "Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S: More Car Than Anyone Could Ever Enjoy," 5 Dec. 2018 This is probably thanks, in part, to the stiffening effect of Republican policy on animal spirits. The Economist, "Business in the Republicans’ America is flourishing, but also changing," 24 May 2018 At the same time, collagen production drops off and elastic fibers begin to stiffen, laying the groundwork for wrinkles and sagging. Jolene Edgar, Allure, "The Truth About Growth Factors in Skin Care and Why They're Controversial," 2 Aug. 2018

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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Statistics for stiffen

Last Updated

26 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for stiffen

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

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More Definitions for stiffen

stiffen

verb

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

stiffen

verb
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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with stiffen

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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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