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 In another sign of a broadening crackdown, prosecutors have questioned nearly 30 journalists in alleged money-laundering cases in recent weeks, threatening to stifle the last independent media in the country. New York Times, 9 June 2021 The concentrated business model of independent E&Ps could, in some cases, shield them from investor pressure to stifle new production. Jinjoo Lee, WSJ, 9 June 2021 The plaintiffs say that fee is punitive and meant to stifle the small-scale solar industry in Alabama. Dennis Pillion |, al, 4 June 2021 Haseloff has sought to stifle any such discussions, though not everyone in the party's local branch has always been so clear. Geir Moulson, Star Tribune, 4 June 2021 Between their Curry defensive conundrum, how to guard Young and how to stifle Capela as a lob threat, Rivers and his staff will have a number of issues to solve before this series tips off Sunday. Bryan Toporek, Forbes, 4 June 2021 Texas Democrats were only able to stifle a Republican legislative package through a dramatic walkout Sunday night. Julian Zelizer, CNN, 2 June 2021 Baldermann also addressed critics of the board who, before Monday’s meeting, suggested the board was not listening and was trying to stifle public input. Alicia Fabbre,, 13 Apr. 2021 Remember the tiny thrill of trying to stifle laughter in a meeting because your work wife very obviously rolled their eyes? Megan Greenwell, Wired, 7 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun There’s nothing like playing the race or gender card to stifle criticism. Emma Colton, Washington Examiner, 14 Dec. 2020 Epic claims that Apple’s App Store rules stifle competition and run afoul of antitrust law. Katherine Riley, WSJ, 16 May 2021 The macro problem is that our public schools operate as monopolies that stifle competition, discourage innovation, and imprison kids in failing schools., 14 May 2021 There’s nothing like playing the race or gender card to stifle criticism. Emma Colton, Washington Examiner, 14 Dec. 2020 There’s nothing like playing the race or gender card to stifle criticism. Paul A. Gigot, WSJ, 13 Dec. 2020 Lawsuits that threaten to ban cutting-edge products, harm U.S. consumers, and stifle competition are precisely not what is needed. Ike Brannon, Forbes, 8 Apr. 2021 To further stifle excitement, Duggan warns ticketholders to not come to the city early. Miriam Marini, Detroit Free Press, 30 Mar. 2021 Some nonprofit hospitals have engaged in price gouging, employed aggressive debt collection practices, and used various means to stifle competition. Ge Bai And David A. Hyman Reprints, STAT, 9 Apr. 2021

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 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Stifle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jun. 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

More from Merriam-Webster on stifle

Nglish: Translation of stifle for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of stifle for Arabic Speakers


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