- rigid or firm; difficult or impossible to bend or flex: a stiff collar.
- not moving or working easily: The motor was a little stiff from the cold weather.
- (of a person or animal) not supple; moving with difficulty, as from cold, age, exhaustion, or injury.
- strong; forceful; powerful: stiff winds; The fighter threw a stiff right to his opponent's jaw.
- strong or potent to the taste or system, as a beverage or medicine: He was cold and wanted a good stiff drink.
- resolute; firm in purpose; unyielding; stubborn.
- stubbornly continued: a stiff battle.
- firm against any tendency to decrease, as stock-market prices.
- rigidly formal; cold and unfriendly, as people, manners, or proceedings.
- lacking ease and grace; awkward: a stiff style of writing.
- excessively regular or formal, as a design; not graceful in form or arrangement.
- laborious or difficult, as a task.
- severe or harsh, as a penalty or demand.
- excessive; unusually high or great: $50 is pretty stiff to pay for that.
- firm from tension; taut: to keep a stiff rein.
- relatively firm in consistency, as semisolid matter; thick: a stiff jelly; a stiff batter.
- dense or compact; not friable: stiff soil.
- Nautical. (of a vessel) having a high resistance to rolling; stable (opposed to crank2).
- Scot. and North England. sturdy, stout, or strongly built.
- Australian Slang. out of luck; unfortunate.
- 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.
- Slang. a contestant, especially a racehorse, sure to lose.
- in or to a firm or rigid state: The wet shirt was frozen stiff.
- completely, intensely, or extremely: I'm bored stiff by these lectures. We're scared stiff.
- Slang. to fail or refuse to tip (a waiter, porter, etc.).
- Slang. to cheat; gyp; do out of: The company stiffed me out of a week's pay.
Origin of stiff
SynonymsSee more synonyms for stiff on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for 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
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
- not easily bent; rigid; inflexible
- not working or moving easily or smoothlya stiff handle
- difficult to accept in its severity or harshnessa stiff punishment
- moving with pain or difficulty; not supplea stiff neck
- difficult; arduousa stiff climb
- unrelaxed or awkward; formal
- firmer than liquid in consistency; thick or viscous
- powerful; stronga stiff breeze; a stiff drink
- excessively higha stiff price
- nautical (of a sailing vessel) relatively resistant to heeling or rollingCompare tender 1 (def. 11)
- lacking grace or attractiveness
- stubborn or stubbornly maintaineda stiff fight
- obsolete tightly stretched; taut
- slang, mainly Australian unlucky
- slang intoxicated
- stiff upper lip See lip (def. 9)
- stiff with informal amply provided with
- slang a corpse
- slang anything thought to be a loser or a failure; flop
- completely or utterlybored stiff; frozen stiff
- (intr) slang to failthe film stiffed
- (tr) slang, mainly US to cheat or swindle
- (tr) slang to kill
Word Origin and History for stiffness
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."
Idioms and Phrases with stiffness
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)