See more synonyms for stifling on

Origin of stifling

First recorded in 1550–60; stifle1 + -ing2
Related formssti·fling·ly, adverbun·sti·fling, adjective


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.
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.

Origin of stifle

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

Synonyms for stifle

See more synonyms for on
1. prevent, preclude, put down. 2. check. 3. suffocate, strangle, choke.

Antonyms for stifle

1, 2. encourage. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for stifling

muggy, humid, sultry, fetid, stuffy, confined, close, heavy, thick, breathless, stagnant

Examples from the Web for stifling

Contemporary Examples of stifling

Historical Examples of stifling

  • It was a low room, and though not many were present, the air was stifling.

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • The hot, searching, stifling African day took possession of the world.

    The Leopard Woman

    Stewart Edward White

  • "I am stifling," said the dying man, rolling round his ghastly eyes.

    Night and Morning, Complete

    Edward Bulwer-Lytton

  • The atmosphere was stifling as a night in the rains by reason of the steam and the crowd.

    American Notes

    Rudyard Kipling

  • He raised his arms to heaven, he was stifling with envy and vexation.

British Dictionary definitions for stifling


  1. oppressively hot or stuffya stifling atmosphere
Derived Formsstiflingly, adverb


  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
Derived Formsstifler, noun

Word Origin for stifle

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

Word Origin for stifle

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 stifling



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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper