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 Furthermore, this executive order would stifle innovation and progress in the architecture, engineering and construction industry. Kai Gutschow, The Conversation, "Why so many architects are angered by ‘Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again’," 12 Feb. 2020 While Haber and other brokers argued the ban on fees would stifle the industry and eliminate jobs, the change was welcomed by tenant advocates. Chris Dolmetsch And Nic Querolo / Bloomberg, Time, "New York City Apartment Broker Fees Return After Judge Temporarily Blocks Ban," 11 Feb. 2020 But Valley Vista's early helter skelter performance and Millennium's stifling defense caused the Monsoon's 14 turnovers. Dana Scott, azcentral, "Valley Vista surges late to beat rival Millennium in girls hoops state playoff preview," 7 Feb. 2020 And executives are imposing workflow changes aimed at improving the company’s efficiency, adjustments that strike some employees as stifling innovation. Faiz Siddiqui, Washington Post, "Inside the new Uber: Weak coffee, vanishing perks and fast-deflating morale," 30 Sep. 2019 Some speculate, longingly, that the business-bashing is part of a cunning strategy to distance himself from the wealthy in order, when the time comes, to reform India’s stifling labour laws. The Economist, "India Inc is growing disenchanted with Narendra Modi," 17 Aug. 2019 And yet, conversations with analysts, biopharma executives, lawyers, and academics reveal the flip side of the fantasy—of a broken R&D and sales model that raises prices for patients and payers while stifling innovation. Sy Mukherjee, Fortune, "The Dark Side of the World’s Bestselling Drug: Brainstorm Health," 18 July 2019 The Seahawks also are still lacking the other vital element of their vintage years – a stifling defense that augments and accentuates their ball-control offense. Larry Stone, The Seattle Times, "‘We’re just getting warmed up’: Seahawks stick to run, and offense regains its identity," 8 Oct. 2018 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 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

20 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Stifle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 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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