or stand-off

[ stand-awf, -of ]
See synonyms for standoff on
  1. a standing off or apart; aloofness.

  2. a tie or draw, as in a game.

  1. something that counterbalances.

  2. a prop for holding the top of a ladder away from the vertical surface against which it is leaning.

  3. Electricity. an insulator that supports a conductor above a surface.

  1. standing off or apart; aloof; reserved: an uncordial and standoff manner.

Origin of standoff

First recorded in 1830–40; noun, adj. use of verb phrase stand off

Words Nearby standoff Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use standoff in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for standoff


/ (ˈstændˌɒf) /

  1. US and Canadian the act or an instance of standing off or apart

  2. a deadlock or stalemate

  1. any situation or disposition of forces that counterbalances or neutralizes

  2. rugby short for stand-off half

verbstand off (adverb)
  1. (intr) to navigate a vessel so as to avoid the shore, an obstruction, etc

  2. (tr) to keep or cause to keep at a distance

  1. (intr) to reach a deadlock or stalemate

  2. (tr) to dismiss (workers), esp temporarily

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Other Idioms and Phrases with standoff


Stay at a distance, remain apart, as in Carol stood off from the others. [First half of 1600s] This usage gave rise to the adjective standoffish for “aloof” or “reserved in a haughty way.”

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.