\ 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 mechanisma truck's stiff suspension
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
b : a member of the working class especially : a blue-collar worker
c : person a lucky stiff especially : a stodgy or excessively decorous person


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

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Adjective

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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

Adjective When I got out of bed this morning my back was stiff as a board. Beat the egg whites until they are stiff. Noun That poor stiff never gets a break. They have the kind of luxuries the average working stiff can't afford. Verb the actress has a reputation for stiffing the press at red-carpet events
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Profit margins are tight or nonexistent in food delivery due to stiff competition to sign the most popular restaurants and add customers. Natalia Drozdiak,, "Just Eat Takeaway to Buy Grubhub for $7.3 Billion to Enter U.S.," 14 June 2020 The story is stiff and soapy, but the settings are elegant. Cincinnati Enquirer,, "Here's what you need to watch on TV each day this week: June 14-20," 14 June 2020 Profit margins are tight or nonexistent due to the stiff competition to sign the most popular restaurants and add customers. Natalia Drozdiak, Fortune, "Grubhub to be acquired for $7.3 billion as food delivery wars heat up," 10 June 2020 Anae would face some stiff competition to make the team. John Owning, Dallas News, "Film room: 3 'pet cats’ on the Cowboys’ roster, including the perfect complement to Cooper-Gallup-Lamb at WR," 10 June 2020 Symptoms include a headache, a stiff neck, loss of balance, confusion, and aches and fever. Jen Christensen, CNN, "Enoki mushrooms tied to listeria outbreak that killed four people and hospitalized 31, CDC says," 10 June 2020 Despite some stiff competition, there aren't too many public figures more roundly despised than Roy Cohn. Clark Collis,, "Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn trailer raises objections about life of infamous lawyer," 9 June 2020 The proposals are expected to face stiff resistance from police leaders and unions. NBC News, "Thousands expected to pay final respects to George Floyd in Houston," 8 June 2020 Jayden’s legs were stiff from the long day in the car. Washington Post, "The pandemic hit and this car became home for a family of four.," 6 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb The Pistons were also without Reggie Jackson (stiff back) on Saturday. Vince Ellis, Detroit Free Press, "Pistons' Derrick Rose awesome again, but mistakes lead to 117-111 loss to 76ers," 27 Oct. 2019 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 Santiago is making Castro take grounders using a stiff, flat glove. Jeff Seidel, Detroit Free Press, "The Detroit Tigers' middle infield of the future: Willi Castro and Kody Clemens?," 25 Feb. 2020 Notebook Catcher Jake Rogers is expected to miss two or three days with a stiff back. ... Jeff Seidel, Detroit Free Press, "No mistaking Detroit Tigers' Daniel Pinero — he's the guy with game winning hit," 21 Feb. 2020 Maybe she isn't wired like the rest of us grinders and working stiffs. Author: Wayne And Wanda, Anchorage Daily News, "Before we commit for life, I kind of wish my fiancee could commit to a steady job," 16 Feb. 2020 The Mavs were always criticized for always drafting the big, white European stiffs. Dallas News, "Luka 1.5: Reflecting on Mavs star Luka Doncic’s first season-and-a-half and looking at what lies ahead," 16 Jan. 2020 This, of course, might prove nothing more than that football coaches, like other working stiffs, look for reasons to avoid their families at the end of the holidays, too. Mike Finger,, "Dallas Cowboys’ coaching saga veering into absurdity," 4 Jan. 2020 The animal had a stiff and firm tail, that was thick at the base. Fox News, "Tasmanian tiger seen 80 years after it was thought to have gone extinct: report," 22 Oct. 2019 Detroit is a stiff on the road, going 1-5-1 straight up and 2-5 ATS away from home. John Holler, USA TODAY Sportsbook Wire, "Detroit Lions at Denver Broncos odds, picks and best bets," 20 Dec. 2019 One is that his erratic actions are tactical moves: unconventional behavior that shakes up the political and diplomatic stiffs, and makes things happen. Amy Davidson Sorkin, The New Yorker, "Trump’s Message: His Critics Are the Crazy Ones," 18 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb One clue comes from the waves of cellular shrinkage and expansion—faster than any observed in other animals—that allow the animal’s tissue to switch rapidly from soft to stiff in order to absorb physical stress. Emily Underwood, The Atlantic, "The Search for the World’s Simplest Animal," 8 June 2020 To understand how some companies have lost their souls, consider what happened after U.S. Bank stiffed a customer before Christmas. New York Times, "She Helped a Customer in Need. Then U.S. Bank Fired Her.," 12 Feb. 2020 Trump, however, had a nasty tendency to stiff his business partners and associates. New York Times, "The Money Behind Trump’s Money," 4 Feb. 2020 If they get stiffed, maybe the apartment can be one of the housing options for their colleagues, Torres-Ness said, if the party house next door turns down the volume. Steve Lopezcolumnist, Los Angeles Times, "Column: These ER doctors are rooming together to avoid taking coronavirus home to their families," 1 Apr. 2020 The only lawmaker who was stiffed didn’t vote to reelect Madigan as speaker. Gregory Pratt,, "Relentless visits, repeated voicemails and yelling: Inside Madigan ward’s push to keep a college student from running for alderman," 4 Oct. 2019 March 8 Michael Cohen sued the Trump Organization, claiming the president’s family company stiffed him on millions of dollars in legal fees and costs. Washington Post, "Cohen Fires New Shot at Trump With Suit for Millions in Fees," 20 Sep. 2019 Woods cruised to a 4-under 31 on the front nine thanks to birdies on Nos. 5 and 8, stiffing both approaches to 2 feet, 9 inches. Adam Schupak, Golfweek, "Tiger Woods simmers after strong start to Genesis Invitational," 13 Feb. 2020 The Harlan miners had been stiffed; their community had rallied around them splendidly; and Blackjewel’s CEO, Jeff Hoops, looked like a classic fat-cat villain. The Economist, "Lessons from Bloody Harlan," 26 Sep. 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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Time Traveler for stiff

Time Traveler

The first known use of stiff was before the 12th century

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Statistics for stiff

Last Updated

22 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Stiff.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for stiff


How to pronounce stiff (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for stiff

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with stiff

Spanish Central: Translation of stiff

Nglish: Translation of stiff for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of stiff for Arabic Speakers

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