- to make stiff.
- to become stiff.
- to become suddenly tense, rigid, or taut, as in bracing oneself for or drawing back from shock, fear, or displeasure: He stiffened, expecting to hear the worst.
Origin of stiffen
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for stiffen
Even as he held it up for all of them to see, his limbs began to jerk and stiffen.The Trail Book
But they seemed to her to stiffen, against her will, and her embrace was surely mechanical.A Spirit in Prison
And all the time his eyes were upon his wife, and I saw her stiffen as if she had been struck.The Strolling Saint
White and tense, her hands clenched, Rosamund seemed to stiffen before him.The Sea-Hawk
Little by little his slack body began to stiffen; little by little he raised himself.Once to Every Man
- to make or become stiff or stiffer
- (intr) to become suddenly tense or unyielding
Word Origin and History for stiffen
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper