adjective, stiff·er, stiff·est.
- 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.
verb (used with object)
Origin of stiff
Synonyms for stiff
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
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)