Stiff (?), a. [Compar. Stiffer (?); superl. Stiffest.] [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.]


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 aerial sky. Milton.


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


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


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.


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.


Harsh; disagreeable; severe; hard to bear.

[Obs. or Colloq.] "This is stiff news."


7. Naut.

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



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


Stiff neck, a condition of the neck such that the head can not be moved without difficulty and pain.

Syn. -- Rigid; inflexible; strong; hardly; stubborn; obstinate; pertinacious; harsh; formal; constrained; affected; starched; rigorous.


© Webster 1913.