\ 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

Add the vanilla and salt and whip until medium-stiff peaks form. Tara Duggan,, "Recipe: Outerlands’ Toasted Coconut Tres Leches Cake," 13 Sep. 2019 But tennis changed profoundly with the advent of stiff, graphite rackets and strings made with materials like Kevlar, which added a previously unthinkable level of catapulting power and spin. Kurt Streeter, New York Times, "No Matter How You Slice It, a Stealthy Backhand Still Works," 1 Sep. 2019 Now, this could change, and likely will, when the competition gets stiffer and the weather gets colder and Harbaugh is leaning over on his knees and staring at his team in the fourth quarter of a tie game. Shawn Windsor, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan football finally unleashes its new offense. The future is now," 31 Aug. 2019 While the production is a bit stiff and doesn’t get much below the surface, the real problem is that sadness courses through it. Phil Rosenthal,, "A look at ESPN’s documentary on the NFL’s 4 female owners: ‘I don’t want (players) to look on me as some little old lady who is just kind of hanging around’," 25 Aug. 2019 The ear pads are a bit stiffer, and the whole fit is somewhat tighter on the head. Jeff Dunn, Ars Technica, "Guidemaster: The best gaming headsets for your console or gaming rig," 21 Aug. 2019 To protect the battery in a crash, the electric car’s body will be about 210 pounds heavier, in order to be stiffer, than a combustion car’s. Fortune, "Electric Car Gold Rush: The Auto Industry Charges Into China," 20 Aug. 2019 The researchers also found that vaping reduced the amount of oxygen in the blood by 20 percent, and made the walls of the blood vessels more rigid and stiff, a symptom often associated with cardiovascular diseases like hypertension and stroke. Sara Harrison, WIRED, "Vaping May Harm Your Blood Flow—Even Without Nicotine," 20 Aug. 2019 The Big Ten competition isn't as stiff as in years past, but the Buckeyes do have tough road trips to Lincoln and Ann Arbor. The Si Staff,, "2019 Preview: If Justin Fields Lives Up to Hype, Ohio State Will Be Tough to Beat," 20 Aug. 2019

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

In one episode, Ashenden reluctantly listens as a stiff, middle-aged diplomat unexpectedly bares his soul. Michael Dirda, Washington Post, "‘Ashenden’: the perfect late summer escape read, and a classic," 31 July 2019 The pacing of the first act is fast and furious, setting up the Jersey boys’ origins as juvenile delinquents — OK, felons — the high stakes of failure, and their skill at capturing in music the emotions of working-class stiffs just like them. Terry Byrne,, "‘Jersey Boys’ has the hits, and a captivating story to tell, too," 12 Aug. 2019 So, by definition, these properties, somehow, are, in fact, affordable — just not for most of us working stiffs. John Horgan, The Mercury News, "Horgan: Joey Chestnut: A Silicon Valley legend of a different sort," 7 Aug. 2019 Shobak Castle is a stiff, proud building bearing witness to the grand and unsuccessful campaign to recapture the Holy Land. Andrew Solomon, Condé Nast Traveler, "Traveling Through Jordan’s Historic Ruins, Red Dunes, and Dead Sea," 24 July 2019 After picking up the $30 million option on veteran Paul Millsap, the Nuggets have sat out free agency, even as everyday NBA working stiffs such as Jeremy Lamb, Al-Farouq Aminu, Trevor Ariza, JJ Redick and Taj Gibson have signed elsewhere. Mark Kiszla, The Denver Post, "Kiszla: What do Nuggets have in Michael Porter Jr? The next Kevin Durant? Or a cracked Faberge egg?," 1 July 2019 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Last week, he was sued by a chef who claims Brown stiffed him to the tune of $38,000 for a big party Brown threw in 2018. Scott Ostler,, "Is Antonio Brown’s helmet half-full or half-empty?," 18 Aug. 2019 For decades, former employees and vendors of US president Donald Trump’s hotels and casinos have accused him of not honoring his obligations and stiffing them on unpaid bills and wages. Oliver Staley, Quartz, "Trump announces a new 10% tariff on billions of dollars worth of Chinese imports," 1 Aug. 2019 Morris recalls, saying she was constantly stiffed by club owners who never paid her. Jason Ikeler, Harper's BAZAAR, "Maren Morris Is Becoming the Voice for Women in Country Music," 31 July 2019 People who provide services to the government for pay, including public employees, get stiffed. Los Angeles Times, "Column: With the debt ceiling fight, Congress and Trump are playing with fire -- again," 16 July 2019 Those absent without leave scientists were not just stiffing their home institutions, Lauer points out. Jeffrey Mervis, Science | AAAS, "NIH probe of foreign ties has led to undisclosed firings—and refunds from institutions," 26 June 2019 State officials have bemoaned the spending and chided the federal government for stiffing Texas taxpayers with the bill. James Barragán, Dallas News, "Texas to send 1,000 National Guard troops to Mexico border to deal with 'escalating crisis'," 21 June 2019 The owners of a 70-story Panama City hotel tower formerly managed by President Donald Trump’s companies are accusing them of stiffing the Panamanian government. Heather Vogell, ProPublica, "Trump Companies Accused of Tax Evasion in Panama," 3 June 2019 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

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

7 Oct 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

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