from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Difficult to bend; rigid.
  • adj. Not moving or operating easily or freely; resistant: a stiff hinge.
  • adj. Lacking ease or comfort of movement; not limber: a stiff neck.
  • adj. Drawn tightly; taut.
  • adj. Rigidly formal.
  • adj. Lacking ease or grace.
  • adj. Not liquid, loose, or fluid; thick: stiff dough.
  • adj. Firm, as in purpose; resolute.
  • adj. Having a strong, swift, steady force or movement: a stiff current; a stiff breeze.
  • adj. Potent or strong: a stiff drink.
  • adj. Difficult, laborious, or arduous: a stiff hike; a stiff examination.
  • adj. Difficult to comprehend or accept; harsh or severe: a stiff penalty.
  • adj. Excessively high: a stiff price.
  • adj. Nautical Not heeling over much in spite of great wind or the press of the sail.
  • adv. In a stiff manner: frozen stiff.
  • adv. To a complete extent; totally: bored stiff.
  • n. Slang A corpse.
  • n. Slang A person regarded as constrained, priggish, or overly formal.
  • n. Slang A drunk.
  • n. Slang A person: a lucky stiff; just an ordinary working stiff.
  • n. Slang A hobo; a tramp.
  • n. Slang A person who tips poorly.
  • transitive v. Slang To tip (someone) inadequately or not at all, as for a service rendered: paid the dinner check but stiffed the waiter.
  • transitive v. To cheat (someone) of something owed: My roommate stiffed me out of last month's rent.
  • transitive v. To fail to give or supply (something expected or promised).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Of an object, rigid, hard to bend, inflexible.
  • adj. Of policies and rules and their application and enforcement, inflexible.
  • adj. Of a person, formal in behavior, unrelaxed.
  • adj. Harsh, severe.
  • adj. Of muscles, or parts of the body, painful, as a result of excessive, or unaccustomed exercise.
  • adj. potent.
  • adj. dead, deceased.
  • adj. Of a penis, erect.
  • n. An average person, usually male, of no particular distinction, skill, or education, often a working stiff or lucky stiff.
  • n. A person who is deceived, as a mark or pigeon in a swindle.
  • n. A cadaver, a dead person.
  • n. A person who leaves (especially a restaurant) without paying the bill.
  • v. To fail to pay that which one owes (implicitly or explicitly) to another, especially by departing hastily.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Not easily bent; not flexible or pliant; not limber or flaccid; rigid; firm.
  • adj. Not liquid or fluid; thick and tenacious; inspissated; neither soft nor hard.
  • adj. Firm; strong; violent; difficult to oppose.
  • adj. Not easily subdued; unyielding; stubborn; obstinate; pertinacious.
  • adj. Not natural and easy; formal; constrained; affected; starched.
  • adj. Harsh; disagreeable; severe; hard to bear.
  • adj. Bearing a press of canvas without careening much; ; -- opposed to crank.
  • adj. Very large, strong, or costly; powerful.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Rigid; not easily bent; not flexible or pliant; not flaccid: as, stiff paper; a cravat stiff with starch.
  • Not fluid: thick and tenacious; neither soft nor hard: as, a stiff batter; stiff clay.
  • Drawn tight; tense: as, a stiff cord.
  • Not easily bent: not to be moved without great friction or exertion; not working smoothly or easily.
  • Not natural and easy in movement; not flowing or graceful; cramped; constrained: as, a stiff style of writing or speaking.
  • Rigidly ceremonious; formal in manner; constrained; affected; unbending; starched: as, a stiff deportment.
  • Strong and steady in motion: as, a stiff breeze.
  • Strong; lusty; stanch, both physically and mentally.
  • Strong: said of an alcoholic drink, or mixed drink of which spirit forms a part.
  • Firm in resistance or persistence; obstinate; stubborn; pertinacious.
  • Hard to receive or accept; hard to bear.
  • Hard to master or overcome; very difficult: as, a stiff examination in mathematics.
  • Nautical, bearing a press of canvas or of wind without careening much; tending to keep upright: as, a stiff vessel; a stiff keel: opposed to crank.
  • High; steep: as, a stiff price.
  • Unyielding; firm: said of prices, markets, etc.: as, the wheat-market is stiff.
  • Rigid as in death; dead.
  • Synonyms Unbending, unyielding.
  • Prim, punctilious.
  • Inflexible, uncompromising.
  • n. A dead body; a corpse.
  • n. In hatting, a stiffener.
  • n. Negotiable paper.
  • n. Forged paper.
  • To become or grow stiff.
  • To become obstinate or stubborn.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. having a strong physiological or chemical effect
  • adj. incapable of or resistant to bending
  • n. an ordinary man
  • adj. not moving or operating freely
  • adj. rigidly formal
  • adj. very drunk
  • adj. marked by firm determination or resolution; not shakable
  • n. the dead body of a human being
  • adj. powerful
  • adv. in a stiff manner
  • adv. extremely


Middle English, from Old English stīf.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Old English stīf, from Proto-Germanic *stifaz, from Proto-Indo-European *stīpos (compare Latin stipare, from which English stevedore). (Wiktionary)


  • The walls were full of photos in cheap plastic frames: A young boy held a net of frogs, his expression stiff and sorrowful; the same boy stood at the edge of a cliff at sunset with his arms spread open toward the camera.

    The Gin Closet

  • A flexible bit is one in which the axles have their points of junction broad and smooth,141 so as to bend easily; and where the several parts fitting round the axles, being large of aperture and not too closely packed, have greater flexibility; whereas, if the several parts do not slide to and fro with ease, and play into each other, that is what we call a stiff bit.

    On Horsemanship

  • Ken, I want to begin with you because you have said time and time again right here on this show that Lindsay needs what you call stiff punishment to really teach her a lesson.

    CNN Transcript Nov 13, 2007

  • A flexible bit is one in which the axles have their points of junction broad and smooth, (8) so as to bend easily; and where the several parts fitting round the axles, being large of aperture and not too closely packed, have greater flexibility; whereas, if the several parts do not slide to and fro with ease, and play into each other, that is what we call a stiff bit.

    On Horsemanship

  • Judge Spear imposed what he called a stiff sentence, in part to reflect the damage that Mr Ross's conduct has caused to public confidence in similar events, but also to act as a deterrent to others.

    NZ On Screen

  • Someone I know said we should always set our goals in stiff jelly.

    Okay, I kind of don’t quit in a way after all, while still essentially remaining quitted on the thing I quit last time | Johnny B. Truant

  • Since the press law reform of 2002, Moroccan media have seen an increase in stiff criminal penalties and civil damages against journalists and the publications they write for.

    Global Voices in English » Morocco: Changing Nothing and Everything

  • And yet he knew, furthermore, that hers was a certain stiff-kneed pride that would not have permitted her to accept marriage as an act of philanthropy.

    Chapter XII

  • An alki-stiff is a tramp who drinks druggist's alcohol.

    Chapter 13

  • He glanced about him at the well-bred, well-dressed men and women, and breathed into his lungs the atmosphere of culture and refinement, and at the same moment the ghost of his early youth, in stiff-rim and square-cut, with swagger and toughness, stalked across the room.

    Chapter 27


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