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

Ferguson said his office began investigating early this year, prompted by a New York Times article detailing how such policies had stifled wages for fast-food workers. Gene Johnson,, "Fast-food chains agree to end ‘no-poaching’ policies," 12 July 2018 Ferguson said his office began investigating early this year, prompted by a New York Times article detailing how such policies had stifled wages for fast-food workers. Washington Post, "7 fast-food chains agree to end ‘no-poaching’ policies," 12 July 2018 Heavy rains in the morning cleared during the day, leaving the teams operating outside the cave in stifling heat. Kaweewit Kaewjinda, Houston Chronicle, "3rd mission underway at Thai cave, aims to rescue all left," 10 July 2018 His mother holds her tongue, on the tip of which rests a few thoughts about stifling creativity for the sake of reality. Jen Gann, The Cut, "Watching My Husband Become a Weird Dad," 14 June 2018 You’ve been accused of stifling dissent and hampering freedoms in Malaysia. Laignee Barron / Langkawi, Time, "Could Malaysia’s Mahathir Mohamad Become the World’s Oldest Leader? He Speaks to TIME About What Sparked His Political Comeback," 8 May 2018 The dour Stephen Harper did not look like a cowboy populist, but struck a chord by accusing distant overlords in Ottawa of stifling Canada’s energy-rich west with regulation. The Economist, "Anti-elitist politicians in Canada are courting immigrants," 19 Apr. 2018 Some South Korean conservatives have accused Mr. Moon’s left-leaning administration of bowing to Pyongyang’s demands by stifling potential criticism of North Korea ahead of sensitive talks on denuclearization. Andrew Jeong, WSJ, "South Korean Funding Cut to Shut Down Group That Watches North," 11 Apr. 2018 Fifty one percent of respondents said, yes, and Democrats were far more likely than Republicans to agree with stifling free speech on campus, 62 to 38 percent. Fox News, "Laura Ingraham announces new segment 'Defending the First'," 10 Apr. 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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Phrases Related to stifle

stifling hot

Statistics for stifle

Last Updated

16 Oct 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 state of commotion or excitement

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