9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[stif-uh n] /ˈstɪf ən/
verb (used with object)
to make stiff.
verb (used without object)
to become stiff.
to become suddenly tense, rigid, or taut, as in bracing oneself for or drawing back from shock, fear, or displeasure:
He stiffened, expecting to hear the worst.
Origin of stiffen
1490-1500; stiff + -en1
Related forms
overstiffen, verb
unstiffened, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for stiffen
  • stiffen the requirements for entry to graduate school.
  • They stay perfectly still while resting and when disturbed they raise their head and stiffen their body, simulating a branch.
  • He still caressed the sheep, but it was dead and beginning to stiffen.
  • For example, they're missing a bone found in monkeys and humans, which helps to stiffen our feet.
  • Some are calling for more drastic action, though that would stiffen the headwinds blowing against a fragile economy.
  • The resistance to it is likely to stiffen as more such schemes are introduced.
  • Calcium can then build up in the vessels and stiffen them, laying the foundation for heart disease.
  • No pain at first, but pain increases as tendon becomes tighter and toes stiffen.
  • In advanced stages of the disease, individuals may lose the ability to walk, as their muscles stiffen or spasm.
  • Wire rope used to stiffen or support a tree, pole, or structure between the top guys and the base.
British Dictionary definitions for stiffen


to make or become stiff or stiffer
(intransitive) to become suddenly tense or unyielding
Derived Forms
stiffener, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for stiffen

1590s, from stiff (adj.) + -en (1). Related: Stiffened; stiffening.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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