Etymology: Middle English stif, from Old English stīf; akin to Middle Dutch stijf stiff, Latin stipare to press together, Greek steibein to tread on
Date: before 12th century
a. not easily bent ; rigid <a stiff collar> b. lacking in suppleness or flexibility <stiff muscles> c. impeded in movement — used of a mechanism <a truck's stiff suspension> d. drunk 1a 2. a. firm, resolute b. stubborn, unyielding c. proud d. (1) marked by reserve or decorum (2) lacking in ease or grace ; stilted 3. hard fought ; pugnacious, sharp <drove a stiff bargain> <stiff competition> 4. a. (1) exerting great force <a stiff wind> (2) forceful, vigorous b. potent <a stiff dose> <poured her a stiff drink> 5. of a dense or glutinous consistency ; thick 6. a. harsh, severe <a stiff penalty> b. arduous, rugged <stiff terrain> 7. not easily heeled over by an external force (as the wind) <a stiff ship> 8. expensive, steep <paid a stiff price> • stiffish adjective • stiffly adverb • stiffness noun Synonyms: stiff, rigid, inflexible mean difficult to bend. stiff may apply to any degree of this condition <stretching keeps your muscles from becoming stiff>. rigid applies to something so stiff that it cannot be bent without breaking <a rigid surfboard>. inflexible stresses lack of suppleness or pliability <ski boots with inflexible soles>. II. adverb Date: 13th century 1. in a stiff manner ; stiffly 2. to an extreme degree ; severely <scared stiff> <bored stiff> 3. close enough to the hole for an easy putt in golf <hit it stiff and tapped it in for an easy birdie> III. noun Date: circa 1859 1. corpse 2. a. tramp, bum b. a member of the working class; especially a blue-collar worker c. person <a lucky stiff>; especially a stodgy or excessively decorous person 3. flop, failure IV. verb Date: 1950 transitive verb 1. a. to refuse to pay or tip <stiffed the waiter> b. cheat <stiffed him in a business deal> c. stick 7a <stiffed us with the bar bill> 2. snub 3 <stiffed sportswriters after the game> intransitive verb to fail commercially <the movie stiffed at the box office>
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.