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 stiffnessrigidity, tension, formality, constraint, precision, rigor, firmness, prudery
Examples from the Web for stiffness
Contemporary Examples of stiffness
Early signs are often movement-related, including tremors, stiffness, and problems with walking.The Burden Robin Williams Carried: Diagnosed With Parkinson’s and Depression
Dr. Anand Veeravagu, MD, Tej Azad
August 15, 2014
Some senior Whitehall sources believed that there was an early “stiffness” between the Queen and Mrs. Thatcher.Margaret Thatcher and Queen Elizabeth’s Complicated Relationship
April 8, 2013
Your miner friends notice the stiffness of your walk and chaff you about it.Thatcher's Economic Legacy
April 8, 2013
But after a few minutes with him, you notice the stiffness and formality are gone.The New, Improved John Kerry
November 9, 2009
Historical Examples of stiffness
In everything that bows gracefully there must be an effort at stiffness.Alarms and Discursions
G. K. Chesterton
She seemed to have smoothed away all the Boston stiffness as she smoothed her dress.One Day's Courtship
Markest thou not the stiffness wherewith he moves his left leg!'Micah Clarke
Arthur Conan Doyle
Her hair was dazzlingly yellow, and arranged with all the stiffness of the coiffeur's art.The Avenger
E. Phillips Oppenheim
Of straight lines there are many, but of stiffness there is none.Bell's Cathedrals: The Abbey Church of Tewkesbury
H. J. L. J. Mass
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)