Last modified on 8 January 2015, at 23:10




Old English stīf, from Proto-Germanic *stīfaz (compare Dutch stijf, German steif), from Proto-Indo-European *stīpos (compare Latin stipare, from which English stevedore).



stiff (comparative stiffer, superlative stiffest)

  1. Of an object, rigid, hard to bend, inflexible.
    • 1907, Robert W. Chambers, chapter IX, The Younger Set:
      “A tight little craft,” was Austin’s invariable comment on the matron; []. ¶ Near her wandered her husband, orientally bland, invariably affable, and from time to time squinting sideways, as usual, in the ever-renewed expectation that he might catch a glimpse of his stiff, retroussé moustache.
  2. (figuratively) Of policies and rules and their application and enforcement, inflexible.
  3. Of a person, formal in behavior, unrelaxed.
  4. (colloquial) Harsh, severe.
    He was eventually caught, and given a stiff fine.
  5. 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.
  6. Potent.
    A stiff drink;  a stiff dose;  a stiff breeze.
  7. Dead, deceased.
  8. Of a penis, erect.


Derived termsEdit


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.


stiff (plural stiffs)

  1. 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. 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. (slang) A cadaver, a dead person.
  4. (US) A person who leaves (especially a restaurant) without paying the bill.
  5. (blackjack) Any hard hand where it is possible to exceed 21 by drawing an additional card.

See alsoEdit



stiff (third-person singular simple present stiffs, present participle stiffing, simple past and past participle stiffed)

  1. 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.
    • 1946, William Foote Whyte, Industry and Society, page 129
      We asked one girl to explain how she felt when she was "stiffed." She said, You think of all the work you've done and how you've tried to please [them…].
    • 1992, Stephen Birmingham, Shades of Fortune, page 451
      You see, poor Nonie really was stiffed by Adolph in his will. He really stiffed her, Rose, and I really wanted to right that wrong.
    • 2007, Mary Higgins Clark, I Heard That Song Before, page 154
      Then he stiffed the waiter with a cheap tip.