stiff·​en | \ ˈsti-fən How to pronounce stiffen (audio) \
stiffened; stiffening\ ˈsti-​fə-​niŋ How to pronounce stiffen (audio) , ˈstif-​niŋ \

Definition of stiffen

intransitive verb

: to become stiff or stiffer

Other Words from stiffen

stiffener \ ˈsti-​fə-​nər How to pronounce stiffen (audio) , ˈstif-​nər \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for stiffen



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Examples of stiffen in a Sentence

She stiffened when he grabbed her shoulder. The dogs stiffened in alarm. The law would stiffen penalties for tax evasion.
Recent Examples on the Web When mixture begins to stiffen, fold in vegetables. Mary Meade,, 14 Apr. 2022 Scenes like these can stiffen the shoulders of even the least cringe-beholden amongst us, but Bailey and Gemmell nail every second. ELLE, 2 Apr. 2022 Rival operator Lifecell said its crews spent about two months before the invasion moving some equipment out of eastern areas to stiffen wireless coverage in the west, where millions have since relocated. Drew Fitzgerald,, 24 Mar. 2022 This could feed further conflict, stiffen Saudi determination to match Iran by also becoming a threshold nuclear state, and suck the U.S. into future military entanglements. Firas Maksad, WSJ, 21 Mar. 2022 Threats from Moscow to target the Baltic states or stir trouble in the Balkans will further stiffen U.S. and European spines. Ian Bremmer, Time, 28 Feb. 2022 Florida lawmakers are poised to pass legislation that would stiffen inspection and funding requirements for condo buildings, a move aimed at preventing a repeat of the Surfside, Fla., tower collapse last June that left 98 people dead. Arian Campo-flores, WSJ, 5 Mar. 2022 Enlarge / Fragment of Strengleikar repurposed to stiffen a bishop's miter. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 21 Feb. 2022 Dial it up from Smooth mode to Swift or Sprint and power shifts toward the rear axle as the Bilstein dampers stiffen to create a sportier drive. Nicolas Stecher, Robb Report, 19 Feb. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'stiffen.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of stiffen

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

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Time Traveler for stiffen

Time Traveler

The first known use of stiffen was in the 15th century

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Dictionary Entries Near stiffen

stiff drink


stiffening bar

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Statistics for stiffen

Last Updated

18 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Stiffen.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for stiffen


stiff·​en | \ ˈsti-fən How to pronounce stiffen (audio) \
stiffened; stiffening

Kids Definition of stiffen

1 : to make or become stiff or stiffer The paper stiffened as it dried.
2 : to become tense and still He stiffened with suspicion.

More from Merriam-Webster on stiffen

Nglish: Translation of stiffen for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of stiffen for Arabic Speakers


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