sti·​fle | \ ˈstī-fəl How to pronounce stifle (audio) \
stifled; stifling\ ˈstī-​f(ə-​)liŋ How to pronounce stifling (audio) \

Definition of stifle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to withhold from circulation or expression stifled our anger
b : to cut off (the voice, the breath, etc.)
2a(1) : muffle
(2) : smother
b : to kill by depriving of oxygen : suffocate

intransitive verb

: to be or become unable to breathe easily stifling in the heat



Definition of stifle (Entry 2 of 2)

: the joint next above the hock in the hind leg of a quadruped (such as a horse or dog) corresponding to the human knee — see horse illustration

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Other Words from stifle


stifler \ ˈstī-​f(ə-​)lər How to pronounce stifler (audio) \ noun
stiflingly \ ˈstī-​f(ə-​)liŋ-​lē How to pronounce stiflingly (audio) \ adverb

Synonyms for stifle

Synonyms: Verb

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Examples of stifle in a Sentence

Verb trying to stifle a cry I had to stifle the desire to yell “Stop!”. Students at the school are stifled by the pressure to score high on tests. Too many regulations stifle innovation. something that stifles the growth of the plant I wish we could go outside instead of stifling in this tiny room. He was almost stifled by the smoke.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Reynolds explained why Los Angeles chose not to stifle the number of scooter companies entering the city. Fortune, "Why There Are So Many Scooters in Los Angeles," 7 Jan. 2020 With global protests likely to continue in 2020—in places like Hong Kong, Iraq, Iran and India to name a few—the internet will likely also continue to be used as a political tool to stifle global news coverage and the spread of information. Daniel Wolfe, Quartz, "Internet shutdowns are an increasingly popular means of government suppression," 24 Dec. 2019 Back then, crusty college administrations were thought to be stifling free-spirited, left-leaning students. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, "University President: A Conversation with Mitch Daniels, Part I," 16 Dec. 2019 This is the same thinking that limited the number of taxi cabs allowed in Denver generations ago, choking mobility and stifling competition until Uber went around the law and busted the market open. Jon Caldara, The Denver Post, "Caldara: Whether it’s apartments or scooters, customers, not government, should dictate growth," 29 Nov. 2019 Relying on reports from former security officers and an electronics technician, Bloomberg paints Tesla CEO Elon Musk as willing to go beyond ethical and legal limits to stifle leakers. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "New Report Claims Tesla Engaged in Lies, Threats to Stop Leaks," 13 Mar. 2019 And can Aaron Rodgers and the Packers solve San Francisco’s stifling defense? Dallas News, "SportsDay experts’ NFL picks for the conference championship games: Titans-Chiefs, Packers-49ers," 17 Jan. 2020 Still, the amendment was shelved by the U.S. House Judiciary Committee through the 1940s and 50s, stifling its momentum. Fabiola Cineas, The New Republic, "The Equal Rights Amendment May Have Found Its Moment," 16 Jan. 2020 Around him, a crew of young male dancers sets alight bright red flares, which smoke and sizzle in the stifling early morning air. 1843, "Dance or die: fighting for the legacy of Bogle, the “Godfather of dancehall”," 16 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun This week’s word is stifle, which means to restrain or stop oneself from acting on, such as giving an immediate, emotional reaction. Miriam Marini, Detroit Free Press, "Wayne State University series aims to help you refine your language," 6 Jan. 2020 The risk is that intervening and building barriers could scare away capital, stifle competition and smother innovation just when companies need it most. Washington Post, "Why Europe Wants to Pump Up Companies to Make ‘National Champions’," 20 Sep. 2019 The battle will require the tech execs to mobilize lawyers, lobbyists and PR teams to convince regulators, legislators and the media that their companies do not harm consumers or stifle competition. Dylan Byers, NBC News, "Mark Zuckerberg's next FTC fight could be tougher," 25 July 2019 The government did not appear to prove its case that a bulked-up AT&T would harm consumers and stifle competition. Brooks Barnes, New York Times, "As Disney Moves Forward With Fox, Comcast Continues Plotting," 20 May 2018 Clyde the Belgian came to Hay Burr Inn with a stifle injury. Denise Coffey, Courant Community, "Working Small Miracles At Hay Burr Inn Equine Rescue," 19 Sep. 2017 The company created what is called a stifle brace for Fievel, a black Lab mix who suffers from a painful torn ACL. Stacey Delikat, Fox News, "Prosthetic limbs offering pets a new 'leash' on life," 3 July 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'stifle.' 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 stifle


1513, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 2b


14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for stifle


alteration of Middle English stuflen


Middle English

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Time Traveler for stifle

Time Traveler

The first known use of stifle was in the 14th century

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Statistics for stifle

Last Updated

6 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Stifle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for stifle


How to pronounce stifle (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of stifle

: to not allow yourself to do or express (something)
: to stop (someone) from doing or expressing something
: to make (something) difficult or impossible


sti·​fle | \ ˈstī-fəl How to pronounce stifle (audio) \
stifled; stifling

Kids Definition of stifle

1 : to cause or have difficulty in breathing The room was hot and stifling.
2 : to keep in check by effort I had to stifle a laugh.


sti·​fle | \ ˈstī-fəl How to pronounce stifle (audio) \

Medical Definition of stifle

: the joint next above the hock in the hind leg of a quadruped (as a horse) corresponding to the knee in humans

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More from Merriam-Webster on stifle

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for stifle

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with stifle

Spanish Central: Translation of stifle

Nglish: Translation of stifle for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of stifle for Arabic Speakers

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