sti·​fle | \ˈstī-fəl \
stifled; stifling\ ˈstī-​f(ə-​)liŋ \

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.)

c : deter, discourage

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 \ noun
stiflingly \ ˈstī-​f(ə-​)liŋ-​lē \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for stifle

Synonyms: Verb

muffle, mute

Antonyms: Verb


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Examples of stifle in a Sentence


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

Republicans argue that their measures are not about stifling voters, but preventing voter fraud. German Lopez, Vox, "The right to vote is under siege in 2018," 6 Nov. 2018 In Skate Kitchen, a young skater named Camille (played by Rachelle Vinberg), stifled by her mom, seeks refuge among a cadre of skateboarding friends in a new town. Katherine Cusumano, Teen Vogue, ""Skate Kitchen" Director Crystal Moselle on Why It’s So Important To Take Young Women Seriously," 23 Aug. 2018 That didn’t stifle Currington, his six-piece band or a large and boisterous gathering of fans looking to start the weekend with a classic summer party. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Best and worst of Summerfest Day 3: BlocBoy JB, Billy Currington, MILCK and more," 30 June 2018 The theft of trade secrets violates federal law, stifles innovation, and injures the rightful owners of that intellectual property. Lauren Goode, WIRED, "Indictment of Ex-Fitbit Employees Marks a Bigger Legal Shift," 23 June 2018 Instead, the damage from the nastiest election in decades seems to multiply by the week, stifling all efforts to slake its poison, and looks certain to linger for years. Stephen Collinson, CNN, "Report on FBI brings the 2016 campaign roaring back," 15 June 2018 Indiana’s defense was stifling, especially in the first half. Matthew Vantryon, Indianapolis Star, "After overlooking Kentucky in opener, Indiana All-Stars get their revenge," 9 June 2018 At the plate: Sanchez stifled the Tigers all afternoon. Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Tigers lose to Blue Jays; first loss since appearance of #RallyGoose," 3 June 2018 The Bulldogs stifled one of Baltimore-area’s best faceoff specialists, Towson commit Felix Knorr, with counterpart Merrick Willeford, who won 11 of 16 faceoffs through the first three quarters. Tim Schwartz, Howard County Times, "Howard boys lacrosse overpowered by Churchill in 4A state semifinal," 19 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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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Statistics for stifle

Last Updated

13 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for stifle

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

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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 \
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 \

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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Comments on stifle

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


a private place of worship

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