• synonyms


verb (used with object), sti·fled, sti·fling.
  1. to quell, crush, or end by force: to stifle a revolt; to stifle free expression.
  2. to suppress, curb, or withhold: to stifle a yawn.
  3. to kill by impeding respiration; smother.
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verb (used without object), sti·fled, sti·fling.
  1. to suffer from difficulty in breathing, as in a close atmosphere.
  2. to become stifled or suffocated.
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Origin of stifle1

1350–1400; Middle English < Old Norse stīfla to stop up, dam, akin to stīfr stiff
Related formssti·fler, nounun·sti·fled, adjective


1. prevent, preclude, put down. 2. check. 3. suffocate, strangle, choke.


1, 2. encourage.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for stifler

Historical Examples

  • Ridicule is the stifler of all energy amongst those she controls.

    Godolphin, Complete

    Edward Bulwer-Lytton

  • The last I witnessed was, as Dick Swiveller remarks, a 'stifler.'

British Dictionary definitions for stifler


  1. (tr) to smother or suppressstifle a cough
  2. to feel or cause to feel discomfort and difficulty in breathing
  3. to prevent or be prevented from breathing so as to cause death
  4. (tr) to crush or stamp out
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Derived Formsstifler, noun

Word Origin

C14: variant of stuflen, probably from Old French estouffer to smother


  1. the joint in the hind leg of a horse, dog, etc, between the femur and tibia
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Word Origin

C14: of unknown origin
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 stifler



late 14c., "to choke, suffocate, drown," of uncertain origin, possibly an alteration of Old French estouffer "to stifle, smother," which may be from a Germanic source (cf. Old High German stopfon "to plug up, stuff"). Metaphoric sense is from 1570s. Related: Stifled; stifling.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper