\ 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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective This washer becomes stiff over time, leaving it unable to create a watertight seal. Kyle Schurman,, "How to fix a leaky shower head," 4 Mar. 2021 Cozying up to popular culture is not new for the Louvre, which welcomes — often at stiff rental fees — filmmakers, videographers, photographers, fashion designers, artists. New York Times, "The Louvre Turns to Merch," 3 Mar. 2021 Kali never appears stiff after sleeping on this bed—an issue she's had with other beds—and wakes up every morning ready to run and play. Stephanie Perry, Southern Living, "My Dog Finally Sleeps Through the Night Thanks to This Calming Dog Bed With Over 35,000 Ratings," 3 Mar. 2021 Road divots that can upset a stiff rock crawler like the Tacoma TRD Pro are easily digested and overcome by the Ridgeline. John Pearley Huffman, Car and Driver, "2021 Honda Ridgeline Gets Slightly More Trucklike," 3 Mar. 2021 Iowa State won’t provide as stiff a defensive challenge as the Red Raiders did. Nick Moyle, San Antonio Express-News, "Shaka Smart focuses on improving shot selection ahead of Texas' matchup with Iowa State," 1 Mar. 2021 Meteorological spring begins tomorrow with its calling card--a cool, stiff breeze by afternoon. Washington Post, "D.C.-area forecast: Soggy at times today into early Monday; highs in the 40s and 50s through midweek," 28 Feb. 2021 Because walleyes have such bony mouths, a rod with a stiff backbone is generally needed for a good, positive hookset. Field & Stream, "Best Ice Fishing Rods: How to Choose the Best Ice Rod for Your Winter Fishing," 26 Feb. 2021 In addition to getting kids on their feet, Distant Dancers also helps its students exercise the creative and social muscles that may have gotten a little stiff during all these months at home. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Francis Parker students help kids give dancing a whirl," 25 Feb. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb And when Alex Myres, a cornerback who was elevated from the practice squad on Saturday, tried to tackle Henry, the big back simply stiff-armed Myres into the turf. Jeff Seidel, Detroit Free Press, "Here's job No. 1 for Detroit Lions' next general manager after loss to Titans," 20 Dec. 2020 Montgomery made some nice cuts and stiff-armed Duron Harmon. Carlos Monarrez, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Lions game score vs. Chicago Bears: Live updates and analysis," 6 Dec. 2020 Yet even facing the opposite direction, Henry’s left arm outstretched and stiff-armed away the tackler. Michael Mccleary, The Indianapolis Star, "Derrick Henry's 178-yard day another gash in the Colts' 45-26 loss to Tennessee," 29 Nov. 2020 He stiff-armed Texans' linebacker Jonathan Greenard and then spun away from Texans' cornerback Keion Crossen at the 3 and then pranced into the end zone. oregonlive, "Former Oregon State star Jake Luton performs very well in his NFL debut with the Jacksonville Jaguars," 8 Nov. 2020 He stiff-armed rookie Jon Greenard and then spun away from Keion Crossen and into the end zone. Mark Long,, "Rookie QB Jake Luton shines during Jaguars' loss to Texans," 8 Nov. 2020 Then on the second offensive possession for Texas, Robinson deked and stiff-armed his way to another big gain. Marcus Krum, Dallas News, "5 takeaways from Texas' win over West Virginia: Texas RB Bijan Robinson displays flash, strength in gritty victory," 7 Nov. 2020 Once steadied, Cook bounced outside and then stiff-armed a cornerback out of his way at the 3-yard line to create a path to the end zone. Star Tribune, "Dalvin Cook and Justin Jefferson show off the talents that make them special," 4 Oct. 2020 Despite Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's call for the chamber to institute a formal testing and contact-tracing program for its members and staff in the Capitol complex, McConnell also stiff-armed a question about implementing such a plan. Joe Sonka, The Courier-Journal, "In Kentucky stop, Mitch McConnell refuses to say if he's recently been tested for COVID-19," 3 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun With all due respect to Warren, opening the Biden era by stiff-arming Congress and ordering all sorts of big policy changes by presidential diktat could knock the legs out from the Biden presidency. David Brooks, Star Tribune, "How Biden could steer a divided government," 16 Nov. 2020 When grout is stained with dirt or soap scum, scrub it with a stiff-bristle brush, hot water, and scouring powder, such as Comet or Bar Keepers Friend. Roy Berendson, Popular Mechanics, "How to Clean Dirty Grout," 27 Jan. 2021 Next, use a nylon stiff-bristle scrub brush to scrub off the stains. Joseph Truini, Popular Mechanics, "How to Battle Mold and Mildew in Your Home," 18 Jan. 2021 Here’s a detailed breakdown of exactly what to do for a classic deadlift (often called a stiff-leg or Romanian deadlift) using a barbell. Amy Eisinger, M.a., SELF, "How to Do a Deadlift Correctly," 4 Jan. 2021 The 6-foot, 222-pound tailback shifted gears multiple times on the counter design, twisting around one edge defender with a hypnotic spin before capering outside to stiff-arm two Mountaineers into the ground. Nick Moyle,, "Alamo Bowl can be showcase for Texas RB Bijan Robinson," 24 Dec. 2020 Henry already had created a sensation with his stiff-arm this season. Mark Inabinett |, al, "Derrick Henry’s stiff-arm at it again in NFL," 20 Dec. 2020 So own this and express confidence, not a half-hearted, confusing statement that seemed to give Herman a stiff-arm. Chuck Carlton, Dallas News, "Texas AD Chris Del Conte is a great salesman, but his pitch for keeping Tom Herman was confusing," 13 Dec. 2020 Jacksonville spent entire portions of practice this week working on defending Henry’s trademark stiff-arm, which the Jags see up close twice a year. Mark Long,, "Hometown hurdle? Derrick Henry has been quiet in games at Jaguars," 12 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Patrick Mahomes: Assuming the NFL can stiff-arm COVID-19 sufficiently, Mahomes’ 2020 may include bookend runs to Super Bowl championships. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, "Sports' winners, losers from 2020: The people, institutions that stood out with calendar upended," 21 Dec. 2020 Despite show changes, Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli will return as judges, as will stiff-upper-lipped Brit Len Goodman. Bryan Alexander, USA TODAY, "'Dancing with the Stars': Carole Baskin bringing the 'Tiger King' freak show is tonight's must-see reality TV," 14 Sep. 2020 Although Europe and specifically Italy were hit especially hard by the virus, numbers in many countries have steadily declined thanks to stiff quarantine rules. USA TODAY, "US hits 3M coronavirus cases — about a quarter of the world's total. What number will spark societal changes to slow exponential rise?," 9 July 2020 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

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about stiff

Time Traveler for stiff Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for stiff

Last Updated

7 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Stiff.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on stiff

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for stiff

Nglish: Translation of stiff for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of stiff for Arabic Speakers

Comments on stiff

What made you want to look up stiff? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Who Knew?

Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!