Definition of stiffen in US English:

stiffen

verb

  • 1Make or become stiff or rigid.

    with object ‘he stiffened his knees in an effort to prevent them from trembling’
    no object ‘my back stiffens up and I can't bend’
    • ‘That's impressive for a man his age - perhaps, like me, he has a bad back that stiffens up when he sits.’
    • ‘His knee also stiffens up after training, so it needs sorting out because it's an annoying problem.’
    • ‘She grabbed my hand and my body stiffened even further.’
    • ‘Her body stiffened slightly at the mention of that name.’
    • ‘He knows when to explode into the shot - when the defender is off balance or has stiffened his knees or has moved in too close.’
    • ‘She tried to stand up, but her already tense muscles had stiffened considerably during the flight.’
    • ‘I heard the deep rumble of Michael's voice and I immediately stiffened up.’
    • ‘He suddenly stiffened up, looking at her as if he had just stepped across some kind of social boundary.’
    • ‘He looked at me, and even though he smiled, I could see his posture visibly stiffen.’
    • ‘The tallow and the beeswax was not able to be hardened and stiffened and this led to the invention of the moulding machine by Joseph Morgan in 1834.’
    • ‘She tried to maneuver him to a dumpy sofa studded with a gaudy pattern of crimson roses, but Jack stiffened his knees.’
    • ‘The Queen heard it as well, for Margaret saw her shoulders stiffen almost imperceptibly.’
    • ‘Her shoulders stiffened at his words, puzzling him.’
    • ‘Hold a magnet nearby and the bits of iron will line up end-to-end; they form a rigid lattice that stiffens the mixture.’
    • ‘She stiffened for a second, but then relaxed in his arms.’
    • ‘He stiffened visibly, and stood there rigid, unsure of how to react.’
    • ‘Did his face stiffen for a moment there or was it just my imagination?’
    • ‘The smaller muscles in the face and between the fingers start stiffening between two and four hours after death.’
    • ‘For one precious moment the air filled with dragonfly hatchlings, their limp wings stiffening in the sun, performing aerobatic exercises before migrating down to the river.’
    • ‘Nicole followed my gaze, and I saw her visibly stiffen at the sight of her sister.’
    become stiff, thicken
    become rigid, become stiff, make rigid, make stiff, tense, tense up, tighten, tauten
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1with object Support or strengthen (a garment or fabric), typically by adding tape or an adhesive layer.
      • ‘The sealant stiffens the fabric and prevents the threads from showing through the stitching.’
      • ‘The next essential garment was the corset stiffened with thin strips of whalebone.’
      • ‘Thicker foam also will stiffen the base fabric more than thin foam and requires the stability of heavy fabric, such as denim.’
      • ‘He exaggerated the hips with panniered silk skirts, and skirts were stiffened into subtle bell shapes.’
    2. 1.2 Make or become stronger or more steadfast.
      with object ‘outrage over the murders stiffened the government's resolve to confront the Mafia’
      no object ‘the regime's resistance stiffened’
      • ‘Japanese banks, besieged by requests to waive corporate debts, can stiffen their resolve to resist.’
      • ‘After the German Army was chased across France, resistance began to stiffen.’
      • ‘Little opposition was encountered at first, but resistance stiffened along the Litani river and Vichy troops counter-attacked at Merjayun and Kuneitra.’
      • ‘At the same time, the Israeli position has stiffened.’
      • ‘It took four hours for British paratroopers to reach the bridges on foot, by which time German resistance was already stiffening.’
      • ‘European governments are stiffening their resistance to war in Iraq in advance of the weapons inspectors' report to the United Nations security council tomorrow.’
      • ‘Legislation that will stiffen the penalties for the offences of kidnapping and false imprisonment ought to be passed.’
      • ‘And strikes can backfire: lack of public support can stiffen government resolve.’
      • ‘But Hitler's forces were regrouping, and as the Allies pushed nearer to Germany's borders, German resistance stiffened.’
      • ‘We can hope for an early end to the destruction, but as resistance stiffens that prospect is by no means certain.’
      • ‘It's personal, and you can sense, amidst the all the uncertainty and trepidation, American resolve stiffening.’
      • ‘Once the Allies were on German territory, enemy resistance stiffened.’
      • ‘Although we could not get to Seville and be part of the 100,000-strong march, the events have only stiffened our determination in fighting capitalism.’
      • ‘Progressive Democrats revolted in the House caucus, stiffening resistance to the Republican bill.’
      • ‘On the other hand, this intimate contact with war can stiffen your resolve.’
      • ‘Politicians stiffen penalties, and the police increase man-hours and arrests.’
      • ‘Half a dozen scandalous cases after 1780 illustrated the difficulties and stiffened foreign resistance to Chinese jurisdiction.’
      • ‘Total surprise was achieved, but resistance soon stiffened.’
      • ‘But as the Japanese imperium widened, Chinese resistance stiffened.’
      strengthen, harden, toughen, fortify, give strength to, reinforce, brace, steel, give a boost to
      View synonyms

Pronunciation

stiffen

/ˈstɪfən//ˈstifən/