stiff

1 of 4

adjective

1
a
: 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
2
a
c
: proud
d(1)
: marked by reserve or decorum
(2)
: lacking in ease or grace : stilted
3
: hard fought
stiff competition
4
a(1)
: exerting great force
a stiff wind
b
: potent
poured her a stiff drink
5
: of a dense or glutinous consistency : thick
6
a
: 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
stiffish adjective
stiffly adverb
stiffness noun

stiff

2 of 4

adverb

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

stiff

3 of 4

noun

1
: corpse
2
a
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

stiff

4 of 4

verb

stiffed; stiffing; stiffs

transitive verb

1
a
: 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
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
Thanks to these modifications, which also included stiffer dampers, the car can sprint from zero to 62 mph in 3.6 seconds and hit a top speed of 209 mph. Bryan Hood, Robb Report, 8 Apr. 2024 Take two sheets of paper, or a stiff notecard, and use a thumbtack to poke a smooth round hole in the middle. Paul Rogers, The Mercury News, 8 Apr. 2024 For example, local businesses in cities with large projects (such as Phoenix or New Albany, Ohio) may boom, while companies in almost any industry nationwide could face stiffer competition for tech-literate employees. Geoff Colvin, Fortune, 8 Apr. 2024 These shoes also have a very stiff sole that can be off-putting. Jessica Booth, Parents, 5 Apr. 2024 His fingers were stiff, his hands were stiff, his arms were stiff. Cara Lynn Shultz, Peoplemag, 5 Apr. 2024 Though the 1930s woman may have used a pliable girdle to smooth things out, this was not your Victorian-esque paper maché stiff waist snatcher. Lilah Ramzi, Vogue, 5 Apr. 2024 Under the bill, unauthorized uses would be subject to stiff penalties and lawsuits would be able to be brought by any person or group whose exclusive rights were impacted. Winston Cho, The Hollywood Reporter, 2 Apr. 2024 Employers paying under $20 an hour will likely face stiffer competition for workers. Vanessa Romo, NPR, 1 Apr. 2024
Adverb
The 45,000-piece collection of stiff-looking Trumps in a variety of poses and costumes—like the one shown above—have seen a 445% increase in sales, about $186,000, over the past 24 hours, according to CryptoSlam. Marco Quiroz-Gutierrez, Fortune Crypto, 31 Mar. 2023 The Amityville demon jumps from the single mom into (stock footage of) a bear, a stiff-looking CGI shark, and the internet, always jumping back to its host. Josh Bell, Vulture, 19 July 2022 Safety Peyton Bowen jettisoned Notre Dame for Oregon, quarterback Dante Moore stiff-armed the Ducks for UCLA and offensive lineman Kadyn Proctor left home-state Iowa in the cold after a late push from Alabama. Bryce Millercolumnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, 21 Dec. 2022 The former Patriot made the clean catch, turned, stiff-armed Patriots quarterback Mac Jones into middle earth and sprinted for the game-ending touchdown. Chris Bumbaca, USA TODAY, 19 Dec. 2022 Over nearly two centuries, the herbivore has been imagined as a spike-nosed lummox, inappropriate kangaroo and now, at last, a stiff-tailed, mostly quadrupedal animal. Gemma Tarlach, Discover Magazine, 20 Apr. 2017 Raiders defensive end Chandler Jones intercepted the throw, stiff-armed quarterback Mac Jones — the only obstacle between him and the end zone — and ran 48 yards for the walkoff touchdown. Nicole Yang, BostonGlobe.com, 18 Dec. 2022 On the 74-yarder, Robinson scooted around right end, stiff-armed a defender, reached the second level, made three cutback moves and darted off to the end zone. Don Norcross, San Diego Union-Tribune, 3 Dec. 2022 Brandon Collwes running stiff-legged, Kennedy Adams hopping backward, Mariah Anton rolling furiously on and off stage. Jeffrey Gantz, BostonGlobe.com, 22 Oct. 2022
Noun
The Thing is one of those rare sci-fi horrors that stands the test of time due to its suspenseful pacing and its groundbreaking practical effects by Rob Bottin, leaving you both frozen and scared stiff. Huntley Woods, EW.com, 20 Oct. 2023 And calling Astra's competition stiff is definitely an understatement. Stephen Clark, Ars Technica, 21 Aug. 2023 Being bored stiff by a PowerPoint presentation has become a right of passage in corporate life. Greg Orme, Forbes, 30 Nov. 2023 That would be longtime best friend Dr. Elizabeth Derby (Heather Graham), also a psychiatrist, now considered highly dangerous due to her association with the aforementioned stiff. Dennis Harvey, Variety, 26 Oct. 2023 But that working stiff had at least tried to return it to the world, with some help, of course, from the ice cream king of Waterville, Maine. Dan Barry, BostonGlobe.com, 17 June 2023 Isis, apparently, appealed to Rome’s elite, but Mithras was the god of choice for working stiffs and battle-hardened legionnaires (the cult excluded women). David Laskin Martin Pauer, New York Times, 1 May 2023 The Sooners aren’t bringing in a stiff. Nick Canepa Columnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, 4 Dec. 2021 What to Consider: The material is a little stiff, which affects the overall comfort. Anna Popp, Travel + Leisure, 13 Mar. 2023
Verb
Editorial: Shame on FEMA for trying to stiff L.A. for millions spent on a pandemic homeless program. Jenny Gold, Los Angeles Times, 26 Feb. 2024 This from somebody who habitually stiffs employees, contractors, lawyers; who owes millions in unpaid bills. Letters To The Editor, The Mercury News, 20 Feb. 2024 In addition, the agreement addresses stiff opposition against building a courthouse in the middle that has been envisioned for years as a new residential neighborhood just south of Bushnell Park. Kenneth R. Gosselin, Hartford Courant, 17 Jan. 2024 At the same time, Mr. Johnson is under increasing pressure from some ultraconservatives in the House to reject any spending agreement unless Mr. Biden and congressional Democrats agree to stiff new controls to restrict the flow of migrants across the southern border. Carl Hulse, New York Times, 7 Jan. 2024 Soon, this progresses to stiff neck, confusion, seizures, hallucinations and coma. Avery Hurt, Discover Magazine, 3 Oct. 2023 In a large chilled bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together egg whites with sugar and cream of tartar to make a fluffy meringue, stiff enough to form peaks. 4. Philip Potempa, Chicago Tribune, 14 July 2023 Some Los Angeles service workers have lashed out against their employers for using such fees as an excuse to stiff workers. Carly Olson, Los Angeles Times, 14 Aug. 2023 Frazier, the young Kentucky Republican activist, said it's never been wise to bet against McConnell, a Polio survivor, and that most believe in his judgment to stiff arm calls to step down by opponents, even within the national GOP ranks. Phillip M. Bailey, The Courier-Journal, 11 Aug. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'stiff.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Adjective

Middle English stif, from Old English stīf; akin to Middle Dutch stijf stiff, Latin stipare to press together, Greek steibein to tread on

First Known Use

Adjective

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Adverb

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

circa 1859, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1950, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

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

Dictionary Entries Near stiff

Cite this Entry

“Stiff.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/stiff. Accessed 12 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

stiff

1 of 3 adjective
1
a
: not easily bent : rigid
b
: not easily moved
stiff muscles
stiff valves
2
a
: marked by moral courage
b
: not easy or graceful in manner
3
: hard fought
a stiff fight
4
a
: exerting great force : strong
a stiff wind
b
: potent sense 2b
a stiff dose
5
: not flowing easily : thick
beat egg whites until stiff
6
a
: harsh sense 3, severe
a stiff penalty
b
: rugged
stiff terrain
7
: expensive sense 2, steep
a stiff price
stiffly adverb
stiffness noun

stiff

2 of 3 adverb
1
: in a stiff manner
2
: to a stiff state or condition
frozen stiff
3
: to an extreme degree
bored stiff

stiff

3 of 3 noun
1
: corpse
2
: person
you lucky stiff

Medical Definition

stiff

adjective
: lacking in suppleness
stiff muscles
stiffness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on stiff

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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