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 There’s nothing quite like the student vs. student standoff at the Axe ceremony during a Big Game’s final moments, and this was vintage stuff in the stadium’s southeast corner. Bruce Jenkins,, "Go ahead, Cal, call it The Drive," 23 Nov. 2019 The departure of Kepa in the summer of 2018, an injury to Iago Herrerin and a contract standoff with third-choice Alex Remiro saw Simon jump from Bilbao's fourth-choice - loaned out at second-tier Elche - to starter in a couple of months., "Unai Simon: 7 Things to Know About the Athletic Club Keeper Wanted by Real Madrid," 24 Oct. 2019 Three Arizona Republicans were among the two dozen lawmakers who created a five-hour standoff with House Democrats Wednesday over the secretive testimony being gathered for the ongoing impeachment inquiry. Ronald J. Hansen, azcentral, "3 Arizona Republicans figure prominently in crashing impeachment hearing," 23 Oct. 2019 In 2012, South Africa’s decision to deny 125 Nigerians entry at Oliver Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg triggered a diplomatic standoff between the two countries. Bheki Mngomezulu, Quartz Africa, "The awkward history behind Nigeria and South Africa’s turbulent relationship," 9 Oct. 2019 Determining how much someone is worth, however, is complex and can often lead to contentious standoffs between taxpayers and the government. Author: Laura Davison, Anchorage Daily News, "Warren’s wealth tax would be an IRS headache and boon for appraisers," 22 Sep. 2019 Allen has been housed in the jail since Nov. 14, 2016, when he was arrested by Cleveland police after a police chase and SWAT standoff. Adam Ferrise,, "Cuyahoga County Jail officers, Heartless Felons gang members charged in drug ring inside troubled jail," 28 Aug. 2019 The footage introduces Nat's sister Elena (Florence Pugh) via a standoff at gunpoint that turns into a brutal brawl. Kelsea Stahler,, "Black Panther 2," 24 Aug. 2019 Six Philadelphia police officers were shot early Thursday morning during a nearly 8-hour standoff. Kirsten West Savali, Essence, "Suspect In Custody After Allegedly Shooting 6 Philadelphia Police Officers," 15 Aug. 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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Time Traveler for standoff

Time Traveler

The first known use of standoff was in 1603

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Statistics for standoff

Last Updated

5 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Standoff.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 7 December 2019.

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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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