\ 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

Other Words from stiff


stiffish \ ˈsti-​fish How to pronounce stiff (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
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective To remove bedbugs and their eggs, use a stiff brush on mattress seams. Daryl Perry, USA TODAY, 7 Aug. 2022 Whisk the ingredients for the cream filling together until the cream holds stiff peaks. Ruby Tandoh, The New Yorker, 7 Aug. 2022 Most incumbents will find that Deep Tech poses two stiff challenges at first. François Candelon, Fortune, 5 Aug. 2022 Start by sweeping and scrubbing the concrete with a stiff broom. Timothy Dale, Better Homes & Gardens, 4 Aug. 2022 When ready to serve, in a cold, dry bowl, using a handheld mixer (or in a stand mixer bowl with a whisk attachment) beat the heavy cream on high speed until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes. Anna Francese Gass, Washington Post, 3 Aug. 2022 Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until filling is thick and smooth and very stiff peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. People Staff,, 31 July 2022 Francis seemed a bit stiff early on, lacking some of the natural charisma and chemistry Gibbons had with Dusty Hill, who passed away last year. cleveland, 30 July 2022 The industry already faces stiff headwinds from escalating costs. Jennifer Van Grove, San Diego Union-Tribune, 29 July 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb But so far Brill has gotten stiff-armed by social media platforms. Jeffrey M. O'brien, Fortune, 2 June 2022 But the Auburn running back stiff-armed the Bucs and signed with Major League Baseball’s Kansas City Royals. Mark Inabinett |, al, 22 Apr. 2022 Dogs go through stages in their life, just as people do, as is obvious to anyone who has watched their stiff-legged companion rouse themselves to go for one more walk. James Gorman, Star Tribune, 14 Nov. 2020 Montgomery found a wide crease between right guard James Daniels and right tackle Germain Ifedi, cut back and burst through the hole, stiff-arming former Chicago Bears first-round pick Leonard Floyd and racing into the secondary. Brad Biggs,, 18 Sep. 2021 Thomas drew a loud response from the crowd after breaking loose for a 28-yard carry and stiff-arming an opponent late in the third quarter. J.c. Carnahan,, 20 Aug. 2021 That’s piling up postseason wins, stiff-arming adversity and grinding through against the best mound minders in baseball. San Diego Union-Tribune, 6 June 2021 Fifty years ago, Germans goose-stepped in exacting regimentation, stiff-armed salutes sanctifying der Fuhrer. Bob Larsen, SPIN, 12 Feb. 2022 American consumers and workers aren’t the only ones being stiff-armed. William N. Walker And Stanton D. Anderson, WSJ, 4 Jan. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun If the Emmy Drama Roundtable proves anything, it’s that even the stars of TV’s buzziest shows are familiar with the indignities of the working stiff. Jay L. Clendenin, Los Angeles Times, 25 May 2022 Dodgers star Mookie Betts got the day off Wednesday because of a stiff lower back but is expected to play Friday vs. Washington. Creg Stephenson |, al, 8 Apr. 2021 While the Chargers stagger around as if stiff-arming last call, the Los Angeles Rams clinched another playoff spot on Sunday by beating the Minnesota Vikings, 30-23. Jay Paris, Forbes, 27 Dec. 2021 Ultimately, his stiff-arm during a touchdown run during the Sooners’ 2017 Bedlam victory was the choice. Ryan Aber, USA TODAY, 24 Apr. 2022 The traditional stiff-arm salute was dropped in the 1940s in favor of the hand over the heart to avoid analogies to the Nazi salute. New York Times, 2 Apr. 2022 More than 50,000 fans at San Diego Stadium witnessed the stiff-legged, 28-year-old QB ambling downfield, Dec. 2. Tom Krasovic, San Diego Union-Tribune, 22 Nov. 2021 Again, an opponent that has little desire to fight a nuclear war with the U.S. may nevertheless rely on its nuclear forces to stiff-arm an American conventional response. Caitlin Talmadge, WSJ, 3 Mar. 2022 After that score, Moore stood shell-shocked in front of her goal before slowly turning and trudging stiff-legged up the field. Kevin Baxter, Los Angeles Times, 20 Feb. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb That was necessary when shoes had leather or vinyl elements that might stretch and stiff sole materials that needed to mold to your foot. Brian Metzler, Outside Online, 8 July 2022 The history of mergers and acquisitions is filled with ruthless corporate raiders, bruising wars of words and people trying to stiff each other. New York Times, 20 May 2022 Egg whites are beaten to stiff peaks and then fine almond flour, powdered sugar, and flavorings are folded into the meringue carefully to avoid deflation and dry pockets. Kate Kassin, Bon Appétit, 15 Apr. 2022 In another medium bowl, beat heavy cream to stiff peaks, then fold into mascarpone mixture. Susan Selasky, Detroit Free Press, 13 Feb. 2022 Fortunately, fashion now offers many unstuffy alternatives to stiff Oxfords. Jamie Waters, WSJ, 8 Feb. 2022 Boston’s Kevin McHale stiff armed him in the neck area, leaving Rambis flat on his back. New York Times, 24 Dec. 2021 They stiff-armed national indifference and late-game theatrics that begged for cardiologists on speed dial. San Diego Union-Tribune, 4 Dec. 2021 It’s visually very military inspired, with large heavily padded shoulders, using weighty fabrics and stiff internal canvas. Allyson Portee, Forbes, 25 Oct. 2021 See More

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.

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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Last Updated

10 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Stiff.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for stiff


\ 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

More from Merriam-Webster on stiff

Nglish: Translation of stiff for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of stiff for Arabic Speakers


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