sti·​fle | \ ˈstī-fəl How to pronounce stifle (audio) \
stifled; stifling\ ˈstī-​f(ə-​)liŋ How to pronounce stifle (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 stifle (audio) \ noun
stiflingly \ ˈstī-​f(ə-​)liŋ-​lē How to pronounce stifle (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 Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights group, and others have told the court that a ruling for Oracle would stifle software development. John Fritze, USA TODAY, "Supreme Court sides with Google in years long fight with tech giant Oracle," 5 Apr. 2021 Republican lawmakers are raising concerns that provisions in the sweeping climate bill from top House Democrats would stifle the plastics industry. Abby Smith, Washington Examiner, "Republicans say Democrats' big climate bill would crush the plastics industry," 20 Mar. 2021 Policymakers fear that a sudden rise in rates could stifle activity and spell trouble for governments that have borrowed eye-popping amounts to rescue their economies. Hanna Ziady And Julia Horowitz, CNN, "ECB will buy bonds at a faster pace to keep the recovery on track," 11 Mar. 2021 But along with the optimism come worries that big money may stifle the D.I.Y. spirit vital to podcasting’s identity. New York Times, "Podcasting Is Booming. Will Hollywood Help or Hurt Its Future?," 25 Feb. 2021 Raising the minimum wage could also stifle opportunities for teens entering the workforce, some lawmakers argued. Christen Smith, Washington Examiner, "Raising minimum wage in Pennsylvania would increase economic growth, hike costs for employers: IFO," 17 Feb. 2021 And critics of the ordinance, which will govern Airbnbs, VRBOs and other vacation rentals, say the rules could stifle tourism and housing development in the city by eliminating a relatively new source of rental income for developers. Jim Buchta, Star Tribune, "Minneapolis cap on short-term rentals upsets operators, developers," 21 Jan. 2021 Closed bars, canceled parades and frigid weather are expected to stifle Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans on Tuesday – a stark contrast from last year's revelry that experts believe contributed to an early surge in COVID-19 cases in Louisiana. N'dea Yancey-bragg, USA TODAY, "Mardi Gras celebrations toned down after last year's revelry may have led to COVID-19 spike in New Orleans," 16 Feb. 2021 City regulations also stifle better design impulses, especially parking requirements that no longer make sense when the city should be embracing expanding public transit options, walkability and the benefits of shared commuting. Mark Lamster, Dallas News, "Is Dallas architecture still so bad?," 18 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Meanwhile, the military is waging a campaign to control information and stifle dissent. NBC News, "Easter eggs become symbol of defiance for anti-coup protesters in Myanmar," 4 Apr. 2021 Those factors form a matrix that can ignite or stifle blooms. Tom Stienstra, San Francisco Chronicle, "Wildflowers are starting to bloom. Here's where to see them in the Bay Area and California," 1 Apr. 2021 As more data beget better analysis, which in turn attracts more usage, more data and more profits, these swollen data war chests fortify their platform networks and potentially stifle competition. CNN, "We need to create a global standard to protect and share data — before it's too late," 29 Mar. 2021 The result is a product that relies more and more on the power play to score, the penalty kill to stifle and the goaltending to hold up. Matthew Defranks, Dallas News, "Familiar territory: Stars enter another pivotal stretch that could determine their fate this season," 29 Mar. 2021 Those who support Clearview in its legal wranglings are worried that a loss would stifle innovation. New York Times, "What Happens When Our Faces Are Tracked Everywhere We Go?," 18 Mar. 2021 However, inadequate data security can introduce friction that can slow business processes and stifle innovation. Rehan Jalil, Forbes, "Five Questions To Ask Before Migrating Data To The Cloud," 18 Mar. 2021 What is not legal is using that monopoly power to stifle competition. Joe Nocera Bloomberg Opinion (tns), Star Tribune, "Google should learn from Microsoft's tough antitrust lesson," 22 Oct. 2020 Multiple agencies are looking into whether the mergers and acquisitions process has been exploited by technology companies to scoop up small competitors and stifle innovation. Dana Mattioli, WSJ, "Amazon Accused of Using Monopoly Power as E-Commerce ‘Gatekeeper’," 7 Oct. 2020

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

9 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Stifle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for stifle



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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