stiff·​en | \ ˈsti-fən How to pronounce stiffen (audio) \
stiffened; stiffening\ ˈsti-​fə-​niŋ How to pronounce stiffen (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 stiffen (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 Now, after local demonstrations by anti-mask groups at shopping malls, grocery stores and homeless encampments, the council moved Wednesday to buttress restrictions and stiffen financial penalties. Amina Khan Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "Coronavirus Today: Where the vaccine rollout went wrong," 14 Jan. 2021 On the other hand, more borrowing now might stiffen Republican resistance to borrowing later, for potentially higher priorities. Greg Ip, WSJ, "Yes, It Is Possible to Have Too Much Stimulus," 30 Dec. 2020 According to WebMD, years of high blood pressure can stiffen and narrow your artery walls, which blocks the blood flow to your heart. Nancy Clanton, ajc, "3 ways to test your heart health at home," 28 Dec. 2020 The deal doesn’t include a ratchet mechanism that would force the U.K. to stiffen its rule in lockstep with the EU. Fortune, "The key terms of the Brexit trade deal: Everything you need to know," 25 Dec. 2020 Once temperatures reach a certain level, iguanas stiffen up and fall out of trees, according to Chris Michaels, a meteorologist with WSLS-TV in Roanoke, Virginia, who said this is something that has been seen over the years in South Florida. Doyle Rice, USA TODAY, "Falling iguana alert! Cold weather in Florida may cause iguanas to fall out of trees. But they're not dead.," 23 Dec. 2020 The lungs stiffen and fill with blood and fluid until the person suffocates. Jordan Kisner, The Atlantic, "What the Chaos in Hospitals Is Doing to Doctors," 22 Dec. 2020 Michigan's Legislature needs to stiffen state marijuana laws, Bouchard said. Bill Laitner, Detroit Free Press, "Oakland sheriff: 'Pot processors using butane at home should face penalties'," 22 Dec. 2020 This will stiffen the meat slightly, to facilitate cutting. Bill Buford, The New Yorker, "How to Make a Classic Bistro-Style Steak Tartare at Home," 17 Dec. 2020

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

24 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Stiffen.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Jan. 2021.

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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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Comments on stiffen

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