- rigid or firm; difficult or impossible to bend or flex: a stiff collar.
- not moving or working easily: The motor was a little stiff from the cold weather.
- (of a person or animal) not supple; moving with difficulty, as from cold, age, exhaustion, or injury.
- strong; forceful; powerful: stiff winds; The fighter threw a stiff right to his opponent's jaw.
- strong or potent to the taste or system, as a beverage or medicine: He was cold and wanted a good stiff drink.
- resolute; firm in purpose; unyielding; stubborn.
- stubbornly continued: a stiff battle.
- firm against any tendency to decrease, as stock-market prices.
- rigidly formal; cold and unfriendly, as people, manners, or proceedings.
- lacking ease and grace; awkward: a stiff style of writing.
- excessively regular or formal, as a design; not graceful in form or arrangement.
- laborious or difficult, as a task.
- severe or harsh, as a penalty or demand.
- excessive; unusually high or great: $50 is pretty stiff to pay for that.
- firm from tension; taut: to keep a stiff rein.
- relatively firm in consistency, as semisolid matter; thick: a stiff jelly; a stiff batter.
- dense or compact; not friable: stiff soil.
- Nautical. (of a vessel) having a high resistance to rolling; stable (opposed to crank2).
- Scot. and North England. sturdy, stout, or strongly built.
- Australian Slang. out of luck; unfortunate.
- a dead body; corpse.
- a formal or priggish person.
- a poor tipper; tightwad.
- a drunk.
- a fellow: lucky stiff; poor stiff.
- a tramp; hobo.
- a laborer.
- a forged check.
- a promissory note or bill of exchange.
- a letter or note, especially if secret or smuggled.
- Slang. a contestant, especially a racehorse, sure to lose.
- in or to a firm or rigid state: The wet shirt was frozen stiff.
- completely, intensely, or extremely: I'm bored stiff by these lectures. We're scared stiff.
- Slang. to fail or refuse to tip (a waiter, porter, etc.).
- Slang. to cheat; gyp; do out of: The company stiffed me out of a week's pay.
Origin of stiff
Synonyms for stiffSee more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com
Related Words for stiffsolid, stark, tight, tense, rigid, thick, wooden, creaky, arthritic, cold, strong, hard, tough, heavy, stringent, excessive, harsh, brisk, strict, rigorous
Examples from the Web for stiff
Contemporary Examples of stiff
Ney said McDonnell needs to “keep a stiff lip” and stay in close contact with family members.Abramoff’s Advice for Virginia’s New Jailhouse Guv
Tim Mak, Jackie Kucinich
January 7, 2015
Her pallid young face, brow sweating with fear and pain, yet resolute and stiff with sorrow, makes you want to cry.Relishing Rembrandt’s Blockbuster London Show
October 16, 2014
FDR wanted to project easy grace rather than stiff formality—especially when communicating complicated matters.FDR: King of All Media
September 2, 2014
He is in his late forties; intelligent, people say, but stiff and restrained, an eternal bachelor.Adam Hochschild on Keeping Company With His Dying Father
June 14, 2014
And most of the contemporization sounds like what it is—an ostentatious, slightly ill-fitting suit slipped onto a stiff.Michael Jackson’s Posthumous Album, ‘Xscape,’ Is a Confused, Shameless Money Grab
May 13, 2014
Historical Examples of stiff
Opposite him sat a tall fellow very erect and stiff in his chair.
The coverlet dropped from her breast; her hand was suspended with stiff fingers.
A figure in white, with a stiff white cap, stood by the bed.
She was thin, thinner than ever, and stiff as if she had withered.
Her fingers were stiff, but so was her will: the way she stuck to her work was pathetic.Weighed and Wanting
- not easily bent; rigid; inflexible
- not working or moving easily or smoothlya stiff handle
- difficult to accept in its severity or harshnessa stiff punishment
- moving with pain or difficulty; not supplea stiff neck
- difficult; arduousa stiff climb
- unrelaxed or awkward; formal
- firmer than liquid in consistency; thick or viscous
- powerful; stronga stiff breeze; a stiff drink
- excessively higha stiff price
- nautical (of a sailing vessel) relatively resistant to heeling or rollingCompare tender 1 (def. 11)
- lacking grace or attractiveness
- stubborn or stubbornly maintaineda stiff fight
- obsolete tightly stretched; taut
- slang, mainly Australian unlucky
- slang intoxicated
- stiff upper lip See lip (def. 9)
- stiff with informal amply provided with
- slang a corpse
- slang anything thought to be a loser or a failure; flop
- completely or utterlybored stiff; frozen stiff
- (intr) slang to failthe film stiffed
- (tr) slang, mainly US to cheat or swindle
- (tr) slang to kill
Word Origin for stiff
Old English stif "rigid, inflexible," from Proto-Germanic *stifaz "inflexible" (cf. Dutch stijf, Old High German stif, German steif "stiff;" Old Norse stifla "choke"), from PIE *stipos-, from root *steip- "press together, pack, cram" (cf. Sanskrit styayate "coagulates," stima "slow;" Greek stia, stion "small stone," steibo "press together;" Latin stipare "pack down, press," stipes "post, tree trunk;" Lithuanian stipti "stiffen," stiprus "strong;" Old Church Slavonic stena "wall"). Of battles and competitions, from mid-13c.; of liquor, from 1813. To keep a stiff upper lip is attested from 1815.
"corpse," 1859, slang, from stiff (adj.) which had been associated with notion of rigor mortis since c.1200. Meaning "working man" first recorded 1930, from earlier genitive sense of "contemptible person" (1882). Slang meaning "something or someone bound to lose" is 1890 (originally of racehorses), from notion of "corpse."
"fail to tip," 1939, originally among restaurant and hotel workers, probably from stiff (n.) in slang sense of "corpse" (corpses don't tip well, either). Extended by 1950 to "cheat."
In addition to the idioms beginning with stiff
- stiff as a board
- stiff upper lip
- bore to death (stiff)
- keep a stiff upper lip
- scare out of one's wits (stiff)