stand·​off | \ ˈstand-ˌȯf How to pronounce standoff (audio) \

Definition of standoff

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : tie, deadlock the two teams played to a standoff
b : a counterbalancing effect
2 : the act of standing off



Definition of standoff (Entry 2 of 3)

2 : used for holding something at a distance from a surface a standoff insulator

stand off

stood off; standing off; stands off

Definition of stand off (Entry 3 of 3)

intransitive verb

1 : to stay at a distance from something
2 : to sail away from the shore

transitive verb

1 : to keep from advancing : repel

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Examples of standoff in a Sentence

Noun The two governments are currently in a standoff over who has rights to the land. after two hours they had played to a 5–5 standoff Adjective the client's standoff attitude suggested that this was going to be a strictly business relationship
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In 1963, 20 black students entered Alabama public schools following a standoff between federal authorities and Governor George C. Wallace., "In 1919, New York City welcomed home General John J. Pershing and 25,000 soldiers who’d served in the US First Division during World War I.," 10 Sep. 2019 Some of the highest-profile prisoners caught up in a bitter standoff between Ukraine and Russia have been released in a major prisoner exchange. Fox News, "Russia, Ukraine release 35 in major prisoner exchange, Trump calls it a 'first giant step to peace'," 8 Sep. 2019 On Thursday, global banks in Hong Kong placed advertisements in several local newspapers, calling for a peaceful resolution to the standoff between the city's government and pro-democracy protesters. Julia Hollingsworth, CNN, "Hong Kong protests enter 12th week, as subway shuts some stations," 24 Aug. 2019 The standoff between the 3TTGs and scientists began to thaw in 1992, when ANU agreed to return Mungo Lady to the traditional owners. David Maurice Smith, Smithsonian, "A 42,000-Year-Old Man Finally Goes Home," 23 Aug. 2019 Among them: If the standoff between CBS and DirecTV parent AT&T isn’t resolved by Sept. 8 — the first Sunday of the NFL’s regular season — will DirecTV’s Sunday Ticket still show games that are produced and broadcast by CBS? Ron Hurtibise,, "Here’s how the CBS-AT&T dispute will affect NFL Sunday Ticket on DirecTV," 7 Aug. 2019 While past nights of protest have ended in protracted standoffs between demonstrators and riot police, rally participants this time took a different tack. Yanan Wang, The Christian Science Monitor, "Why Hong Kong protests ebb and flow, like water," 5 Aug. 2019 There was a brief standoff between the British navy and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard vessels recently. Time, "Iran Says Its Seizure of British Ship Was a 'Reciprocal' Move," 20 July 2019 Six oil tankers sailing through that region have been damaged since May in apparent sabotage operations amid a months-long standoff between the US and Iran. Alex Ward, Vox, "The US has a risky new plan to protect oil tankers from Iranian attacks," 12 July 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Just go out and hit kid, in front of several players, a couple Hall of Famers (Jack Morris also stood off to the side), several members of the front office, his family and a large group of photographers and reporters. Jeff Seidel, Detroit Free Press, "Why Riley Greene's BP show had Miguel Cabrera yelling: 'Leave him here!'," 7 June 2019 Riot police stand off against demonstrators inside New Town Plaza shopping mall, operated by Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd., during a protest in the Shatin district of Hong Kong, China, on Sunday, July 14, 2019. Time, "Hong Kong's Protestors Have Their Own Special Slang. Here's a Glossary of Some Common Terms," 6 Sep. 2019 Jeff Faughender, Louisville Courier Journal During a 9 a.m. workout, Mike Sirignano is standing off to the side, observing a handful of Louisville football players. Cameron Teague Robinson, The Courier-Journal, "Competition fuels Louisville football strength coach Mike Sirignano's plan for the team," 15 July 2019 As the trailer itself ended with flashes of clips from various points in his life, Scott stood off-stage at one of his concerts beside Jenner and their daughter as the massive crowd chanted for the rapper. Jen Juneau,, "Kylie Jenner Shares Clips from Travis Scott's New Documentary Showing the Day Stormi Was Born," 28 Aug. 2019 Senior quarterback Cade McConnell answered most of the questions, while freshman quarterback Malachi Nelson, who Fenton said already has an offer from Auburn, stood off to the side. Matt Szabo, Daily Pilot, "CdM football shows it belongs at media day with top O.C. public schools," 14 Aug. 2019 Steve Kerr will obviously adjust his approach this season, but paying a max salary to have Russell stand off the ball or feeding him at the expense of Steph both seem like subpar options. Rohan Nadkarni,, "The D'Angelo Russell Trade Sets Off Complications for Warriors," 1 July 2019 Scott kept his hands clasped behind his back and refused to shake Sun’s hand, standing off on his own while the other medalists joined Sun to pose for photographers. Beth Harris,, "China’s Sun Yang gets shunned again on podium at world swimming championships," 23 July 2019 But the one that stays with Larry Donnelly is spying Noel, standing off to the side, crying, overcome with emotion. Kevin Cullen,, "Noel Whelan died last night," 11 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'standoff.' 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 standoff


circa 1835, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1837, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1603, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

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Statistics for standoff

Last Updated

24 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for standoff

The first known use of standoff was in 1603

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More Definitions for standoff


How to pronounce stand off (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of standoff

: an argument, contest, etc., in which there is no winner

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Comments on standoff

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


concealed or difficult to comprehend

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