[ stif ]
See synonyms for stiff on
adjective,stiff·er, stiff·est.
  1. rigid or firm; difficult or impossible to bend or flex: a stiff collar.

  2. not moving or working easily: The motor was a little stiff from the cold weather.

  1. (of a person or animal) not supple; moving with difficulty, as from cold, age, exhaustion, or injury.

  2. strong; forceful; powerful: stiff winds;The fighter threw a stiff right to his opponent's jaw.

  3. strong or potent to the taste or system, as a beverage or medicine: He was cold and wanted a good stiff drink.

  4. resolute; firm in purpose; unyielding; stubborn.

  5. stubbornly continued: a stiff battle.

  6. firm against any tendency to decrease, as stock-market prices.

  7. rigidly formal; cold and unfriendly, as people, manners, or proceedings.

  8. lacking ease and grace; awkward: a stiff style of writing.

  9. excessively regular or formal, as a design; not graceful in form or arrangement.

  10. laborious or difficult, as a task.

  11. severe or harsh, as a penalty or demand.

  12. excessive; unusually high or great: $50 is pretty stiff to pay for that.

  13. firm from tension; taut: to keep a stiff rein.

  14. relatively firm in consistency, as semisolid matter; thick: a stiff jelly;a stiff batter.

  15. dense or compact; not friable: stiff soil.

  16. Nautical. (of a vessel) having a high resistance to rolling; stable (opposed to crank2).

  17. Scot. and North England. sturdy, stout, or strongly built.

  18. Australian Slang. out of luck; unfortunate.

  1. Slang.

    • a dead body; corpse.

    • a formal or priggish person.

    • a poor tipper; tightwad.

    • a drunk.

  2. Slang.

    • a fellow: lucky stiff; poor stiff.

    • a tramp; hobo.

    • a laborer.

  1. Slang.

    • a forged check.

    • a promissory note or bill of exchange.

    • a letter or note, especially if secret or smuggled.

  2. Slang. a contestant, especially a racehorse, sure to lose.

  1. in or to a firm or rigid state: The wet shirt was frozen stiff.

  2. completely, intensely, or extremely: I'm bored stiff by these lectures.We're scared stiff.

verb (used with object)
  1. Slang. to fail or refuse to tip (a waiter, porter, etc.).

  2. Slang. to cheat; swindle; do out of: The company stiffed me out of a week's pay.

Origin of stiff

First recorded before 1000; Middle English stif, stijf, Old English stīf; cognate with German steif, Old Norse stífr; akin to Latin stīpāre “to crowd, press” (see steeve1, stifle1)

synonym study For stiff

1. See firm1.

Other words for stiff

Other words from stiff

  • stiff·ish, adjective
  • stiff·ly, adverb
  • stiff·ness, noun
  • o·ver·stiff, adjective
  • o·ver·stiff·ly, adverb
  • sem·i·stiff, adjective
  • sem·i·stiff·ly, adverb
  • un·stiff, adjective
  • un·stiff·ly, adverb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use stiff in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for stiff


/ (stɪf) /

  1. not easily bent; rigid; inflexible

  2. not working or moving easily or smoothly: a stiff handle

  1. difficult to accept in its severity or harshness: a stiff punishment

  2. moving with pain or difficulty; not supple: a stiff neck

  3. difficult; arduous: a stiff climb

  4. unrelaxed or awkward; formal

  5. firmer than liquid in consistency; thick or viscous

  6. powerful; strong: a stiff breeze; a stiff drink

  7. excessively high: a stiff price

  8. nautical (of a sailing vessel) relatively resistant to heeling or rolling: Compare tender 1 (def. 11)

  9. lacking grace or attractiveness

  10. stubborn or stubbornly maintained: a stiff fight

  11. obsolete tightly stretched; taut

  12. slang, mainly Australian unlucky

  13. slang intoxicated

  14. stiff upper lip See lip (def. 9)

  15. stiff with informal amply provided with

  1. slang a corpse

  2. slang anything thought to be a loser or a failure; flop

  1. completely or utterly: bored stiff; frozen stiff

  1. (intr) slang to fail: the film stiffed

  2. (tr) slang, mainly US to cheat or swindle

  1. (tr) slang to kill

Origin of stiff

Old English stīf; related to Old Norse stīfla to dam up, Middle Low German stīf stiff, Latin stīpēs wooden post, stīpāre to press

Derived forms of stiff

  • stiffish, adjective
  • stiffly, adverb
  • stiffness, 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

Other Idioms and Phrases with stiff


In addition to the idioms beginning with stiff

  • stiff as a board
  • stiff upper lip

also see:

  • bore to death (stiff)
  • keep a stiff upper lip
  • scare out of one's wits (stiff)

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