stiff Meaning, Definition & Usage

  1. noun an ordinary man
    • a lucky stiff
    • a working stiff
  2. noun the dead body of a human being
    remains; clay; corpse; cadaver.
    • 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. adjective satellite not moving or operating freely
    • a stiff hinge
  4. adjective satellite powerful
    • a stiff current
    • a stiff breeze
  5. adjective satellite rigidly formal
    buckram; starchy.
    • a starchy manner
    • the letter was stiff and formal
    • his prose has a buckram quality
  6. adjective having a strong physiological or chemical effect
    strong; potent.
    • a potent toxin
    • potent liquor
    • a potent cup of tea", "a stiff drink
  7. adjective satellite marked by firm determination or resolution; not shakable
    firm; unbendable; steadfast; steady; unfaltering; unshakable; unwavering.
    • firm convictions
    • a firm mouth
    • steadfast resolve
    • a man of unbendable perseverence
    • unwavering loyalty
  8. adjective satellite 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. adjective satellite very drunk
    pixilated; sozzled; soaked; tight; soused; sloshed; slopped; blotto; plastered; crocked; besotted; cockeyed; squiffy; wet; pie-eyed; fuddled; smashed; blind drunk; loaded; pissed.
  10. adverb extremely
    • bored stiff
    • frightened stiff
  11. adverb in a stiff manner
    • his hands lay stiffly


Stiff adjective
OE. stif, AS. stif; akin to D. stijf, G. steif, Dan. stiv, Sw. styf, Icel. stifr, Lith. stipti to be stiff; cf. L. stipes a post, trunk of a tree, stipare to press, compress. Cf. Costive, Stifle, Stipulate, Stive to stuff.
comparative Stiffer ; superlative Stiffest
  1. Not easily bent; not flexible or pliant; not limber or flaccid; rigid; firm; as, stiff wood, paper, joints.
    [They] rising on stiff pennons, tower The mid aërial sky. Milton.
  2. Not liquid or fluid; thick and tenacious; inspissated; neither soft nor hard; as, the paste is stiff.
  3. Firm; strong; violent; difficult to oppose; as, a stiff gale or breeze.
  4. Not easily subdued; unyielding; stubborn; obstinate; pertinacious; as, a stiff adversary.
    It is a shame to stand stiff in a foolish argument. Jer. Taylor.
    A war ensues: the Cretans own their cause, Stiff to defend their hospitable laws. Dryden.
  5. Not natural and easy; formal; constrained; affected; starched; as, stiff behavior; a stiff style.
    The French are open, familiar, and talkative; the Italians stiff, ceremonious, and reserved. Addison.
  6. Harsh; disagreeable; severe; hard to bear. Obs. or Colloq. "This is stiff news." Shak.
  7. (Naut.) Bearing a press of canvas without careening much; as, a stiff vessel; -- opposed to crank. Totten.
  8. Very large, strong, or costly; powerful; as, a stiff charge; a stiff price. Slang Syn. -- Rigid; inflexible; strong; hardly; stubborn; obstinate; pertinacious; harsh; formal; constrained; affected; starched; rigorous.

Webster 1913