What does stiff mean?

Definitions for stiff

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word stiff.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. stiffnoun

    an ordinary man

    "a lucky stiff"; "a working stiff"

  2. cadaver, corpse, stiff, clay, remainsadjective

    the dead body of a human being

    "the cadaver was intended for dissection"; "the end of the police search was the discovery of a corpse"; "the murderer confessed that he threw the stiff in the river"; "honor comes to bless the turf that wraps their clay"

  3. stiffadjective

    not moving or operating freely

    "a stiff hinge"

  4. stiffadjective


    "a stiff current"; "a stiff breeze"

  5. starchy, stiff, buckramadjective

    rigidly formal

    "a starchy manner"; "the letter was stiff and formal"; "his prose has a buckram quality"

  6. potent, strong, stiffadjective

    having a strong physiological or chemical effect

    "a potent toxin"; "potent liquor"; "a potent cup of tea", "a stiff drink"

  7. firm, steadfast, steady, stiff, unbendable, unfaltering, unshakable, unwaveringadjective

    marked by firm determination or resolution; not shakable

    "firm convictions"; "a firm mouth"; "steadfast resolve"; "a man of unbendable perseverence"; "unwavering loyalty"

  8. rigid, stiffadjective

    incapable of or resistant to bending

    "a rigid strip of metal"; "a table made of rigid plastic"; "a palace guardsman stiff as a poker"; "stiff hair"; "a stiff neck"

  9. besotted, blind drunk, blotto, crocked, cockeyed, fuddled, loaded, pie-eyed, pissed, pixilated, plastered, slopped, sloshed, smashed, soaked, soused, sozzled, squiffy, stiff, tight, wetadverb

    very drunk

  10. stiffadverb


    "bored stiff"; "frightened stiff"

  11. stiffly, stiffadverb

    in a stiff manner

    "his hands lay stiffly"


  1. stiffnoun

    An average person, usually male, of no particular distinction, skill, or education, often a working stiff or lucky stiff.

    A Working Stiff's Manifesto: A Memoir of Thirty Jobs I Quit, Nine That Fired Me, and Three I Can't Remember was published in 2003.

  2. stiffnoun

    A person who is deceived, as a mark or pigeon in a swindle.

    She convinced the stiff to go to her hotel room, where her henchman was waiting to rob him.

  3. stiffnoun

    A cadaver, a dead person.

  4. stiffnoun

    A person who leaves (especially a restaurant) without paying the bill.

  5. stiffverb

    To fail to pay that which one owes (implicitly or explicitly) to another, especially by departing hastily.

    Realizing he had forgotten his wallet, he stiffed the taxi driver when the cab stopped for a red light.

  6. stiffadjective

    Of an object, rigid, hard to bend, inflexible.

  7. stiffadjective

    Of policies and rules and their application and enforcement, inflexible.

  8. stiffadjective

    Of a person, formal in behavior, unrelaxed.

  9. stiffadjective

    Harsh, severe.

    He was eventually caught, and given a stiff fine.

  10. stiffadjective

    Of muscles, or parts of the body, painful, as a result of excessive, or unaccustomed exercise.

    My legs are stiff after climbing that hill yesterday.

  11. stiffadjective


    A stiff drink; a stiff dose; a stiff breeze.

  12. stiffadjective

    dead, deceased.

  13. stiffadjective

    Of a penis, erect.

  14. Etymology: stif, from stifaz, from stīpos (compare stipare, from which English stevedore).

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. STIFFadjective

    Etymology: stif , Saxon; stiff, Danish; styf, Swedish; stifur, Islandick; stijf, Dutch.

    They rising on stiff pinions tower
    The mid aerial sky. John Milton.

    The glittering robe
    Hung floating loose, or stiff with mazy gold. James Thomson.

    Still less and less my boiling spirits flow,
    And I grow stiff as cooling metals do. John Dryden, Indian Emp.

    Mingling with that oily liquor, they were wholly incorporate, and so grew more stiff and firm, making but one substance. Thomas Burnet, Theory of the Earth.

    On a stiff gale
    The Theban swan extends his wings. John Denham.

    How stiff is my vile sense,
    That I stand up, and have ingenious feeling
    Of my huge sorrows! Better I were distract! William Shakespeare.

    We neither allow unmeet nor purpose the stiff defence of any unnecessary custom heretofore received. Richard Hooker.

    Yield to others when there is cause; but it is a shame to stand stiff in a foolish argument. Taylor.

    A war ensues, the Cretans own their cause,
    Stiff to defend their hospitable laws. Dryden.

    The French are open, familiar, and talkative; the Italians stiff, ceremonious, and reserved. Joseph Addison, on Italy.

    This is stiff news. William Shakespeare.


  1. Stiff

    Be Stiff is the third single by American new wave band Devo. It was released in 1978. The song was taken from the sessions for Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! produced by Brian Eno. Guitarist Bob Lewis wrote the music and came up with the title concept; bassist Jerry Casale penned the verses. With its stop-start rhythms and angular arrangement, "Be Stiff" exemplified Devo's stance against soft rock complacency. It became an anthem for Stiff Records, and a minor success in the UK. It was covered multiple times, including on a Stiff-released EP of their own artists' interpretations. It was performed in 1980 and live recordings appear on DEV-O Live and Devo Live 1980. It was also performed as an encore on the Freedom of Choice shows of Devo's November 2009 tour, and included in the setlist of their 2014 Hardcore Devo Live! tour.


  1. stiff

    Stiff can be defined in various contexts. Generally, it refers to something that is rigid and difficult to bend or move. In physiological characterization, it describes muscles or limbs lacking ease or flexibility in movement. In terms of character or behavior, it refers to someone who is very formal, rigid or strict in their behaviors or attitudes. In a competitive context, it can mean something or someone that is hard to defeat.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Stiff

    not easily bent; not flexible or pliant; not limber or flaccid; rigid; firm; as, stiff wood, paper, joints

  2. Stiff

    not liquid or fluid; thick and tenacious; inspissated; neither soft nor hard; as, the paste is stiff

  3. Stiff

    firm; strong; violent; difficult to oppose; as, a stiff gale or breeze

  4. Stiff

    not easily subdued; unyielding; stubborn; obstinate; pertinacious; as, a stiff adversary

  5. Stiff

    not natural and easy; formal; constrained; affected; starched; as, stiff behavior; a stiff style

  6. Stiff

    harsh; disagreeable; severe; hard to bear

  7. Stiff

    bearing a press of canvas without careening much; as, a stiff vessel; -- opposed to crank

  8. Stiff

    very large, strong, or costly; powerful; as, a stiff charge; a stiff price

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Stiff

    stif, adj. not easily bent: rigid: not liquid: rather hard than soft: not easily overcome: obstinate: not natural and easy: constrained: formal: hard to overcome, difficult: firm, of prices, &c.: dead, rigid in death: (naut.) keeping upright.—n. (slang) a corpse: negotiable paper: forged paper.—v.t. Stiff′en, to make stiff.—v.i. to become stiff: to become less impressible or more obstinate.—ns. Stiff′ener, one who, or that which, stiffens; Stiff′ening, something used to make a substance more stiff.—adj. Stiff′-heart′ed (B.), obstinate, stubborn.—adv. Stiff′ly.—n. Stiff′-neck, cervical myalgia, true torticollis.—adj. Stiff′-necked, obstinate, hard to move.—ns. Stiff′-neck′edness; Stiff′ness.—Do a bit of stiff, to accept or discount a bill. [A.S. stíf, stiff; Dut. stijf, Dan. stiv.]

Dictionary of Nautical Terms

  1. stiff

    Stable or steady; the opposite to crank; a quality by which a ship stands up to her canvas, and carries enough sail without heeling over too much.

Editors Contribution

  1. Stiffverb

    "Screw" or "f*ck"

    I got stiffed.

    Etymology: From street slang. A euphemism for the more vulgar terms, f*cked or screwed, meaning to be treated in an unfair way.

    Submitted by h.r.quick1 on January 14, 2022  

Surnames Frequency by Census Records

  1. STIFF

    According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Stiff is ranked #11767 in terms of the most common surnames in America.

    The Stiff surname appeared 2,662 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 1 would have the surname Stiff.

    72.4% or 1,929 total occurrences were White.
    23% or 613 total occurrences were Black.
    2.2% or 59 total occurrences were of Hispanic origin.
    1.5% or 40 total occurrences were of two or more races.
    0.4% or 11 total occurrences were Asian.
    0.3% or 10 total occurrences were American Indian or Alaskan Native.

Matched Categories

British National Corpus

  1. Adjectives Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'stiff' in Adjectives Frequency: #739

How to pronounce stiff?

How to say stiff in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of stiff in Chaldean Numerology is: 6

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of stiff in Pythagorean Numerology is: 6

Examples of stiff in a Sentence

  1. Simon Latimer:

    People are scared stiff, they're petrified of rocking the boat and losing their position.

  2. Scott Carver:

    Basically around the circumference [ of the intestine ], there are some parts that are more stretchy and some parts that are more stiff, and that is what creates the edges and the cubing.

  3. Lawrence Durrell:

    Now stiff on a pillar with a phallic air nelson stylites in Trafalgar square reminds the British what once they were.

  4. La Russa:

    They’re sore, stiff, and it’s not smart to push it.

  5. Justin Trudeau:

    One of the things we have to remember is China is the second largest economy in the world and continues to grow. We are going to have to – in some circumstances – engage constructively with China like we did around the conference on biodiversity that we hosted with them in Montreal, there’s other places where we’re going to have to be stiff competition to China in terms of market access (and) in terms of investments in the Global South. We need to be able to show that the Western democracies are there to make those investments and they’re as competitive to China.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for stiff

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

  • трупBulgarian
  • rígid, encarcaratCatalan, Valencian
  • ztuhlýCzech
  • starr, Steifer, Zechpreller, prellen, steifGerman
  • adolorido, tieso, rígido, serio, severo, duro, inflexibleSpanish
  • tehdä oharit, jannu, uhri, kova, hemmo, heebo, kankea, ruumis, jäykkä, heppu, raatoFinnish
  • macchabée, rigideFrench
  • ragScottish Gaelic
  • inflessibile, duro, rigido, severoItalian
  • 払い忘れる, 堅い, カモ, 食い逃げ, 固い, 無銭飲食, 凝る, 硬い, オッサンJapanese
  • stingrs, stings, stīvsLatvian
  • ioioMāori
  • rigide, stijf, inflexibel, stevig, stugDutch
  • sério, severo, rijo, dolorido, duro, hirto, inflexível, rígidoPortuguese
  • a țepuiRomanian
  • лох, суровый, непоколебимый, твёрдый, одеревенелый, труп, жёсткий, непреклонный, негибкий, чопорный, холодный, окостеневший, жмурик, строгийRussian
  • stel, sjappaSwedish
  • cứngVietnamese
  • stifikVolapük

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"stiff." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 13 Jun 2024. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/stiff>.

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    an unincorporated business owned by a single person who is responsible for its liabilities and entitled to its profits
    A soft-witted
    B equivalent
    C ravening
    D proprietary

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