\ 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 A week later, on Tuesday, May 17, Trump faces three more stiff tests. Paul Steinhauser, Fox News, 4 May 2022 But critics point to the 6-5, 263-pounder’s stiff hips, which are a troublesome trait for potential NFL players. J.p. Pelzman, Forbes, 1 May 2022 Blake, who is not above throwing a funeral party for no good reason, had one very good reason this time: After five years of kitschy fun and stiff cocktails, Death or Glory, a decadently dark and gothy drinking den, was closing for good. Phillip Valys, Sun Sentinel, 28 Apr. 2022 The tortilla, stiff from its long journey, softens and then crisps over the heat and breathes in some of the woodsy smoke. Los Angeles Times, 28 Apr. 2022 Some billionaires appear to prefer glossy mags over stiff broadsheets. Nicholas Gordon, Fortune, 26 Apr. 2022 But Gupta Technologies ran into increasingly stiff competition from Oracle, Microsoft and Mr. Kertzman’s Powersoft, and the company ultimately faltered. New York Times, 22 Apr. 2022 Noncompliance can result in stiff fines and felony penalties. NBC News, 21 Apr. 2022 The bleakest scenario hasn’t materialized in large part because Russia contained the spread of financial contagion with stiff capital controls while plentiful petrodollars helped the ruble recoup losses and put a leash on inflation., 19 Apr. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb 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 He stiff-armed Chargers cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. to the dirt and raced down the right sideline with ease. Ellis L. Williams, cleveland, 11 Oct. 2021 The testimony as well as the many videos and social media posts introduced were awash in the iconography of hate, with Nazi symbols and stiff-armed salutes, with admiration for Hitler and claims that nonwhite races were inferior. New York Times, 23 Nov. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun 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 During a recent Tonight Show interview, Jimmy Fallon and Paris Hilton hyped ape ownership in a conversation with the stiff, cheery cadence of a bad infomercial. Kate Knibbs, Wired, 8 Feb. 2022 The closest the working stiff will come to these two canyons is to take peek at them from some of the circulation areas overhead — or by signing up for a stadium tour. Los Angeles Times, 8 Feb. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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 That helped open a crease for Allen, who was able to stiff-arm a defender and bounce to the outside. Jeff Potrykus, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 14 Oct. 2021 The 6-2, 232-pound back will likely encounter a lot of unfavorable blocking as a rookie, and he can't be expected to stiff-arm and hurdle an entire defense. Michael Middlehurst-schwartz, USA TODAY, 30 Apr. 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

6 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Stiff.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 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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