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 This is an opportunity for Michigan's offense — which was stifled by Louisville's pack-line defense Tuesday night — to bounce back in a big way. Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan basketball vs. Iowa: Scouting report, prediction," 6 Dec. 2019 DePaul’s perimeter defense was a difference-maker, with Minnesota’s facilitator for much of the game, Marcus Carr, stifled by the defense of Darious Hall. Drew Cove, Twin Cities, "Gophers’ late chance blocked by unbeaten DePaul," 29 Nov. 2019 Bolivia’s independent media have been stifled by government pressure and a concerted harassment campaign, including lawsuits and the politicization of public-advertising contracts. Ryan C. Berg, National Review, "Morales’s Bolivia: Autocracy, Corruption, Waste," 25 Nov. 2019 Parton, whose star was rising, felt stifled by Wagoner’s terms. Lila Maclellan, Quartz at Work, "One of the world’s most popular love songs was actually a resignation letter," 20 Nov. 2019 The Grizzlies, stifled by a parade of rotations, missed 15 of their 20 shots in the second. Connor Letourneau,, "Draymond Green helps power Warriors to win over Grizzlies to halt 7-game skid," 19 Nov. 2019 Positioned between the roaring entrepreneurial communities in San Francisco and Seattle, and stifled by the absence of large research universities and local investment pools, Oregon has rarely been a destination for the most ambitious entrepreneurs. Mike Rogoway, oregonlive, "Vacasa raises $319 million, positioning it to be Oregon’s first big, new company in a generation," 29 Oct. 2019 As for free agents examining the landscape, Triples Alley is going to look about the same to them: the most power-stifling region in either league. Bruce Jenkins,, "Giants’ bullpen move: Ballpark will be different, and just fine," 12 Nov. 2019 Debate should be vigorous, since Republicans say the House proposal would create innovation-stifling price controls and liberal Democrats say these ideas are still too timid. cleveland, "9 tips for picking a Medicare Part D prescription plan," 20 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun 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

11 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Stifle.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 12 December 2019.

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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

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 period of high artistic development

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