[stif-uh n]

verb (used with object)

to make stiff.

verb (used without object)

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

First recorded in 1490–1500; stiff + -en1
Related formso·ver·stiff·en, verbun·stiff·ened, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for stiffened

Contemporary Examples of stiffened

Historical Examples of stiffened

  • They would have stiffened in astonishment could they have translated the "glare."

  • The short rest had stiffened them and brought home the weariness to their bones.

    The Leopard Woman

    Stewart Edward White

  • They stiffened in surprise as he caught sight of the Leopard Woman.

    The Leopard Woman

    Stewart Edward White

  • She stood looking at that outstretched, stiffened man, who was dying.

  • Joshua Lake stiffened as he had stiffened so many times before.

    The Big Tomorrow

    Paul Lohrman

British Dictionary definitions for stiffened



to make or become stiff or stiffer
(intr) to become suddenly tense or unyielding
Derived Formsstiffener, noun
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

Word Origin and History for stiffened



1590s, from stiff (adj.) + -en (1). Related: Stiffened; stiffening.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper