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 Trump administration officials have talked about inserting the federal government deep into the private sector to stiffen global competition against Chinese telecom giant Huawei Technologies Co. Drew Fitzgerald And Sarah Krouse, WSJ, "White House Considers Broad Federal Intervention to Secure 5G Future," 25 June 2020 Yet competition is likely to stiffen as American tech giants eye the telecoms sector as a launchpad to strengthen their foothold in India's growing digital market. Grady Mcgregor, Fortune, "11 deals for $15 billion in 10 weeks: Why India’s Jio Platforms is on an investment spree," 20 June 2020 Now, City Council members are urging the administration of Mayor Jamael Tito Brown to stiffen its approach to the enterprise zone program and to crack down on companies that violated their tax break agreements. Desperation Town, ProPublica, "We Reported on Corporate Tax Breaks in the Rust Belt. Now Officials Want Tougher Enforcement.," 5 June 2020 The legislation stiffens criminal penalties for making false statements to the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which approves surveillance applications. Christal Hayes, USA TODAY, "Trump says he will veto FISA deal as House tests historic proxy voting system," 27 May 2020 When those air sacs become clogged, the lungs stiffen up. oregonlive, "Lung exercises can help prevent severe coronavirus illness, doctor says -- and JK Rowling claims they worked for her," 7 Apr. 2020 The bill, which Trump is expected to sign, would stiffen enforcement and require that phone companies offer free consumer tools to identify and block scam calls. Washington Post, "Senate passes anti-robocalls bill; Trump expected to sign," 19 Dec. 2019 Colorado marijuana regulators are stiffening rules on THC vaping. James Burky, The Denver Post, "For the first time, the DEA will accept vape products on National Drug Take-Back Day," 24 Oct. 2019 Baklava is the structural engineer's reaction to ideas like mille-feuille; stiffen the bonding material with lots of aggregate (nuts) to provide a truly load-bearing item, with a rather brutish result. Gabriella Gershenson, Saveur, "The Structural Soundness of Your Favorite Desserts, According to Architects," 30 Jan. 2017

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

28 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Stiffen.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Jul. 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

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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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