stiff

adjective
\ ˈstif \

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

d : drunk sense 1a

2a : firm, resolute

b : stubborn, unyielding

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

(2) : forceful, vigorous

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

stiff

adverb

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

stiff

noun

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

stiff

verb
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

Adjective

stiffish \ˈsti-fish \ adjective
stiffly adverb
stiffness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for stiff

Adjective

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

For all the thumping energy, the music has a touch of stiff irony reminiscent of Shostakovich. New York Times, "Is ‘Mass’ Leonard Bernstein’s Best Work, or His Worst?," 13 July 2018 Driven by a stiff wind, fire spread swiftly through the fertilizer plant in West, Texas, on that spring evening in 2013. Mike Hendricks, kansascity, "Firefighters protect us. Who protects them?," 13 July 2018 Atlanta's stiffest competition probably comes from Amazon Prime's The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, the most nominated rookie program, which landed 14 noms, and another new show, the aforementioned Barry, which landed just one nom fewer. Scott Feinberg, The Hollywood Reporter, "Emmys: Netflix and HBO Set to Compete on Equal Footing," 12 July 2018 At a moment when art might help the narrator navigate toward emotional realization, Xi’s stiff, dead dogs don’t actually enlighten. Walton Muyumba, latimes.com, "Detachment and dreaming in 'My Year of Rest and Relaxation' by Ottessa Moshfegh," 12 July 2018 Using the whisk attachment, whip the mixture at high speed for about 10 minutes, until the mixture becomes stiff and glossy and cools (to about 90 degrees). Nik Sharma, SFChronicle.com, "A Brown Kitchen: Mango layer cake for a fresh summer treat," 11 July 2018 The law went into effect in August 2016 and was immediately met with stiff backlash on campuses, particularly at UT-Austin. Matthew Choi, star-telegram, "Guns chill free speech, UT Austin professors will argue at federal appeals court," 11 July 2018 Getty Images With fitted top, tiny belted waist, and gorgeous, stiff A-line skirt, Meghan's Dior dress looks just like something Audrey Hepburn would wear—and did wear in movies like Sabrina and Breakfast at Tiffany's and to real-life events. Sally Holmes, Marie Claire, "Meghan Markle Goes Full Audrey Hepburn in Dior LBD at RAF Centenary," 10 July 2018 Using the whisk attachment, beat cream at medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Teri Mena, sacbee, "Dessert anxiety? Pie keeps you chill," 10 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

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

Correa has been nursing a stiff back since going on the disabled list June 26. Matt Young, Houston Chronicle, "Astros' Carlos Correa out until after All-Star break," 13 July 2018 By the end of spring training, despite a stiff back, Doc showed everyone his stuff was more than major league ready. Davey Johnson, SI.com, "What It Was Like to Manage a Rookie Doc Gooden, the Gritty Wally Backman and the New York Mets," 1 June 2018 Two stiffs staring at eternity was perhaps a bit more dramatic than a letter, telegram or text. John Kass, chicagotribune.com, "Silence in Chicago’s mayoral race: The missing Latino candidate and the Sun-Times chairman’s deal with Rahm’s money man," 12 May 2018 Big Ben: bomb double, medium-size, dark red flowers grow on stiff stems and are fragrant; foliage stays handsome through summer. The Editors Of Organic Life, Good Housekeeping, "How To Grow Your Own Gorgeous Peonies," 9 Mar. 2017 Artist Dayanita Singh was fed up with the stiff, sterile environments her photography was being exhibited in. Julissa Treviño, Smithsonian, "Pocket-Sized Exhibition Shows Museum Experience Is Not One Size Fits All," 20 Apr. 2018 Each tale was colorful in its own right — and, for the working stiff who settles up with the Internal Revenue Service every April, maybe a little infuriating. David Scharfenberg, BostonGlobe.com, "Trillions of dollars have sloshed into offshore tax havens. Here’s how to get it back," 20 Jan. 2018 Helen, meanwhile, puts her do-gooder impulses to work trying to help a working-class stiff, Leonard Bast (Joseph Quinn), whose interactions with the family, despite her good intentions, only seem to keep magnifying his misfortune. Brian Lowry, CNN, "'Howards End' expands novel into splendid Starz miniseries," 6 Apr. 2018 Traini would openly give the stiff-armed fascist salute and complain about African immigrants in the town, using a highly offensive term for them, said Francesco Clerico, who owns the gym where Traini trained for a decade. Washington Post, "Man shoots, wounds at least 6 ‘people of color’ in Italian city amid tensions," 3 Feb. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Compare that figure with the percentage of Gen Xers and baby boomers who admitted stiffing the wait staff: 1.8 percent and 4.4 percent, respectively. Tim Carman, chicagotribune.com, "Millennials tip the least, but it may not be for the reasons you think," 7 July 2018 Last month, a federal bankruptcy court ordered Eagan Avenatti to pay $10 million to attorney Jason Frank, who used to work at the firm and claimed the company stiffed him on the first installment of a $4.85 million settlement. Brooke Singman, Fox News, "Stormy Daniels' legal fund could be targeted in case against attorney Avenatti," 13 June 2018 Compare that figure with the percentage of Gen Xers and baby boomers who admitted stiffing the wait staff: 1.8 percent and 4.4 percent, respectively. Tim Carman, chicagotribune.com, "Millennials tip the least, but it may not be for the reasons you think," 7 July 2018 Compare that figure with the percentage of Gen Xers and baby boomers who admitted stiffing the wait staff: 1.8 percent and 4.4 percent, respectively. Tim Carman, chicagotribune.com, "Millennials tip the least, but it may not be for the reasons you think," 7 July 2018 Normally, the story should have ended there, with a poor man being stiffed by a more powerful one. Rukmini Callimachi, New York Times, "The Case of the Purloined Poultry: How ISIS Prosecuted Petty Crime," 1 July 2018 Compare that figure with the percentage of Gen Xers and baby boomers who admitted stiffing the wait staff: 1.8 percent and 4.4 percent, respectively. Tim Carman, chicagotribune.com, "Millennials tip the least, but it may not be for the reasons you think," 7 July 2018 Near triple-digit temperatures and high humidity smothered the Hartford region on Sunday, and Monday promised little relief from the stiffing heat with temperatures predicted to again top 90 degrees. Matthew Ormseth, courant.com, "Weather Service Issues Heat Warning With Temperatures Peaking Again Sunday, Residents Packing State Parks," 2 July 2018 Compare that figure with the percentage of Gen Xers and baby boomers who admitted stiffing the wait staff: 1.8 percent and 4.4 percent, respectively. Tim Carman, Anchorage Daily News, "Millennials tip the least, but it may not be for the reasons you think," 19 June 2018

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

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

History and Etymology for stiff

Adjective

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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Learn More about stiff

Dictionary Entries near stiff

Stieng

stieve

stife

stiff

stiff-arm

stiff aster

stiff-backed

Statistics for stiff

Last Updated

9 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for stiff

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

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More Definitions for stiff

stiff

adjective

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

stiff

adverb

English Language Learners Definition of stiff (Entry 2 of 4)

: very much : to an extreme degree

stiff

noun

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

stiff

verb

English Language Learners Definition of stiff (Entry 4 of 4)

: to not give as much money as you should give to (someone)

stiff

adjective
\ ˈstif \
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
stiffness noun

stiff

adjective
\ ˈstif \

Medical Definition of stiff 

: lacking in suppleness stiff muscles

Other words from stiff

stiffness noun

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Comments on stiff

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