stiff Meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary Cambridge dictionaries logo
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Meaning of “stiff” in the English Dictionary

"stiff" in British English

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stiffadjective

uk   /stɪf/ us   /stɪf/
  • stiff adjective (FIRM)

B2 firm or hard: stiff cardboard a stiff collar His clothes were stiff with dried mud. This hair spray has made my hair stiff. Mix the powder and water into a stiff paste.
B2 not easily bent or moved: The handle on this door is rather stiff. The man's body was (as) stiff as a board when it was found in the snow.
B2 If you are stiff or part of your body is stiff, your muscles hurt when they are moved: Sitting still at a computer terminal all day can give you a stiff neck.

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  • stiff adjective (NOT RELAXED)

C2 behaving in a way that is formal and not relaxed: The general is a tall man with steel spectacles and a stiff, pompous manner.
  • stiff adjective (SEVERE)

C2 severe and difficult: The athlete was given a stiff punishment for using drugs. They are campaigning for stiffer penalties for people who drink and drive. There has been stiff opposition/resistance to the proposed tax increases. It's a stiff climb to the top of the hill. Some colleges have stiffer entry requirements than others. Both companies are worried about losing business in the face of stiff competition.
a stiff breeze/wind
a strong wind
a stiff drink, brandy, gin, etc.
C2 an alcoholic drink that is very strong: A stiff whisky - that's what I need.
A stiff price is very expensive: We had to pay a stiff membership fee to join the health club.

stiffadverb

uk   /stɪf/ us   /stɪf/
B2 very much, or to a great degree: I got frozen stiff (= very cold) waiting at the bus stop. I was scared stiff when I heard someone moving around upstairs.

stiffnoun [C]

uk   /stɪf/ us   /stɪf/

stiffverb [T]

uk   /stɪf/ us   /stɪf/
to not pay someone money that you owe them : She stiffed the cab driver.
(Definition of stiff from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"stiff" in American English

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stiffadjective

us   /stɪf/
  • stiff adjective (FIRM)

[-er/-est only] firm or hard and not bending or moving easily: He had stiff leather shoes on. If the dough is stiff, add more sour cream.
[-er/-est only] If your body is stiff, you cannot move easily and your muscles hurt when moved: He was unable to turn his head because of a stiff neck.
  • stiff adjective (NOT RELAXED)

[-er/-est only] not relaxed or friendly; formal: The performance was stiff and rather predictable. You can’t be stiff with a guy who takes you into his confidence.
  • stiff adjective (SEVERE)

[-er/-est only] severe; difficult to deal with or do: The penalties for corruption are stiff. Most of the team’s losses have come against stiff competition.
  • stiff adjective (STRONG)

strong or powerful: A stiff wind beat against the house.

stiffadverb [not gradable]

us   /stɪf/ infml
very much; to a great degree: I was scared stiff during the air raids.

stiffnoun [C]

us   /stɪf/ slang
  • stiff noun [C] (PERSON)

a person of the type described: I’m just a working stiff. You lucky stiff!
slang A stiff is also a dead person’s body.

stiffverb [T]

us   /stɪf/
  • stiff verb [T] (CHEAT)

to cheat someone out of money: She stiffed the taxi driver.
(Definition of stiff from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"stiff" in Business English

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stiffadjective

uk   /stɪf/ us  
firm, hard, or not easily bent: We use stiff cardboard in all our packaging.
very strong or difficult to deal with: stiff opposition/resistance/competition There has been stiff opposition to the proposed tax increases.
very high: a stiff price/penalty/tariff Companies sometimes pay a stiff price for switching CEOs. The minimum investment is a stiff $25,000.

stiffverb [T]

uk   /stɪf/ us   informal
to fail to pay someone money that you owe them, or to take more money from them than they owe: stiff sb out of sth Many temporary workers have experienced getting stiffed out of their pay. Who doesn't feel stiffed when they've overpaid?
(Definition of stiff from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
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“stiff” in Business English

Avoiding common errors with the word enough.
Avoiding common errors with the word enough.
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May 25, 2016
by Liz Walter Enough is a very common word, but it is easy to make mistakes with it. You need to be careful about its position in a sentence, and the prepositions or verb patterns that come after it. I’ll start with the position of enough in the sentence. When we use it with a noun,

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