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 On Tuesday, the International Monetary Fund underscored the urgency of the problem on a global scale, issuing a report stating that backups in supply chains could stifle economic recovery. New York Times, 13 Oct. 2021 Chlöe Bailey isn’t letting critics stifle her self-expression. Essence, 13 Oct. 2021 Following a study that found systemic gender stereotypes stifle many children, Lego, the world's largest toymaker, announced Monday its future products and marketing would be free of gender bias and harmful stereotypes. Tommy Beer, Forbes, 11 Oct. 2021 The lines that bind them show how the state’s political maps can stifle or amplify a community’s power., 8 Oct. 2021 Apple, predictably, is lobbying against the change and believes a law to that effect would stifle innovation. Yoni Heisler, BGR, 27 Sep. 2021 The Justice Department warned that the law would stifle competition and lead to higher rates. NBC News, 24 Sep. 2021 The exact date of departure has been kept under wraps to stifle piracy, says Massimo Stiavelli, head of Webb’s mission office at STScI. Details about the security accompanying the telescope have not been made public. Nikk Ogasa, Scientific American, 22 Sep. 2021 Ensure that creativity is rewarded and figure out what those metrics are that won't stifle it, but at the same time allow people to continue to move forward. Heather Wishart-smith, Forbes, 30 Sep. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Pahlavi employed secret police to torture and execute people and stifle dissent. Amir Vahdat, USA TODAY, 5 Aug. 2021 Last October the Trump Justice Department, joined by about a dozen states, filed a ground-breaking antitrust lawsuit against Google, accusing the company of abusing its dominance in online search and advertising to stifle competition. NBC News, 23 June 2021 Spain is notorious for its inflexible labor laws, which stifle entrepreneurship, disincentivize hiring, and create a two-tier employment market, and its overweening state, with a tax-to-GDP ratio of 34.6 percent versus 24.5 percent for the U.S. Arvin Bahl, National Review, 12 Sep. 2021 But there are issues with the way B2Bs make and accept payments that stifle cash flow and hinder growth. Justin Main, Forbes, 2 Sep. 2021 Meanwhile, their backs forced turnover after turnover to stifle ATL’s forwards, holding them to a garbage-time try for their only points after the break. Luca Evans, Los Angeles Times, 1 Aug. 2021 The junta has also targeted the press in a bid to stifle information, by suspending the licenses of independent media houses, raiding media offices and issuing arrest warrants for journalists. Helen Regan, CNN, 15 June 2021 The conditions and pitching did stifle the offense, but the action in the stands is thrilling. Jason Hoffman, The Enquirer, 11 June 2021 Instead of being snapped back to their senses by a deadly illness, people retreated further into fantasy and fallacy, in which face masks were part of a far-reaching conspiracy to suffocate patriots and stifle freedom. Astra Taylor, The New Republic, 6 May 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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Dictionary Entries Near stifle

stiff upper lip


stifle bone

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Statistics for stifle

Last Updated

18 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Stifle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Oct. 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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