Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Financial, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
be (as) stiff as a board
To be very stiff; to be rigid and/or difficult to bend. The dry cleaner really starched this shirt—it's as stiff as a board! After being on a plane for eight hours, I'm stiff as a board.
be as stiff as a ramrod
To have very erect posture. I've never seen Olivia slouch—she's always as stiff as a ramrod.
a stiff upper lip
The ability to remain stoic during difficult situations. Despite all of the hardships he faced, John always kept a stiff upper lip and didn't let anything bother him. The players were devastated after losing the championship, but their coach encouraged them to keep a stiff upper lip and focus on doing better next year.
bore (one) stiff
To cause one to be extremely bored, to the point of distraction, frustration, or irritation. Today's lecture bored me stiff.
Extremely bored to the point of distraction, frustration, or irritation. I was bored silly listening to that lecture this afternoon.
scare (one) stiff
To shock or frighten someone very suddenly and/or severely. Don't sneak up on me like that, you scared me stiff! That car accident seems to have scared Janet stiff—she's still shaken by it.
A phrase used when one is unsympathetic to someone who has suffered a hardship. If you slept through your alarm because you stayed up half the night, stiff cheddar!
A phrase used when one is unsympathetic to someone who has suffered a hardship. If you slept through your alarm because you stayed up half the night, stiff cheese!
Utterly terrified; so scared that one cannot move. I was scared stiff when I heard someone in our kitchen in the middle of the night. Janet still seems to be scared stiff after the encounter with the mountain lion.
a stiff drink
A very strong alcoholic drink; liquor (alcoholic spirits) that is undiluted or unmixed. I felt like I needed a stiff drink after such a frightening car accident. I suggest pouring yourself a stiff drink before you look at the financial results for this quarter.
(as) stiff as a ramrod
Very straight, rigid, or inflexible. Used to describe someone's physical posture or demeanor. The whole class sat in their chairs as stiff as ramrods during the principal's lecture. He stood as stiff as a ramrod after his name was called, too nervous to move.
(as) stiff as a poker
Very straight, rigid, or inflexible. Used to describe someone's physical posture or demeanor. The whole class sat in their chairs as stiff as pokers during the principal's lecture. He stood as stiff as a poker after his name was called, too nervous to move.
(as) stiff as a board
Very straight, rigid, or inflexible. Used to describe someone's physical posture or demeanor. The whole class sat in their chairs as stiff as boards during the principal's lecture. He stood as stiff as a board after his name was called, too nervous move.
Someone who works very hard day in, day out, especially in a menial, lower-paying, or non-managerial position. None of this corporate politics stuff matters much to a working stiff like me, so long as I keep getting a pay check at the end of the week. My dad might have just been a working stiff, but he made damn sure that his kids got the opportunities and advantages he never had growing up.
keep a stiff upper lip
To remain stoic during difficult situations. Despite all of the hardships he faced, John always kept a stiff upper lip and didn't let anything bother him. The players were devastated after losing the championship, but their coach encouraged them to keep a stiff upper lip and focus on doing better next year.
slang Cheated (out of some amount of money). This is the third time this month that I've gotten stiffed on the bill. I was doing freelance work for someone and got stiffed for nearly $20,000.
See also: stiff
bore someone stiffand bore someone to death; bore someone to tears
Fig. to be exceedingly dull and uninteresting. (Stiff means "dead.") The play bored me stiff. The lecture bored everyone to death.
bored sillyand bored to distraction; bored stiff; bored to death; bored to tears
very bored; extremely dull and uninteresting (Usually an exaggeration.) I was bored silly at the lecture. The dull speaker left me bored to distraction. I am bored to tears. Let's go home.
Keep a stiff upper lip.
Prov. Act as though you are not upset.; Do not let unpleasant things upset you. (English people are stereotypically supposed to be very good at keeping a stiff upper lip.) Even though he was only three years old, Jonathan kept a stiff upper lip the whole time he was in the hospital recovering from his surgery. Jill: Sometimes this job frustrates me so much I could just break down in tears. Jane: Keep a stiff upper lip. Things are bound to improve.
scare someone stiff
Fig. to frighten someone severely. (Stiff = dead.) That loud noise scared me stiff. The robber jumped out and scared us stiff.
Fig. badly frightened. We were scared stiff by the robber. I was scared stiff when the dog growled at me.
*stiff as a poker
rigid and inflexible; stiff and awkward. (Usually used to describe people. *Also: as ~.) This guy's dead. He's cold and as stiff as a poker. John is not a very good dancer; he's stiff as a poker.
Fig. someone who works, especially in a nonmanagement position. (Originally and typically referring to males.) But does the working stiff really care about all this economic stuff? All the working stiffs want is a raise.
bore to death
Also, bore to tears or bore stiff or bore the pants off. Weary someone through extremely dull talk or uninteresting action. For example, Sam was bored stiff by the opera but didn't dare to admit it, or Carol bores the pants off me with her constant talk of remodeling, or His books bore me to death. All four expression convey the idea of such exasperation that one dies, weeps, stiffens with annoyance, or has one's trousers removed. The verb bore has been used in this sense only since about 1750, and its etymology is unknown. The amplifications were added between about 1850 and 1950. Also see under pants off; talk one's arm off.
keep a stiff upper lip
Show courage in the face of pain or adversity. For example, I know you're upset about losing the game, but keep a stiff upper lip. This expression presumably alludes to the trembling lips that precede bursting into tears. [Early 1800s]
scare out of one's wits
Also, frighten out of one's wits; scare stiff or silly or to death or the living daylights out of or the pants off . Terrify, make one panic, as in When the lights went out, she was scared out of her wits, or I was scared stiff that I would fail the driver's test. The first of these hyperbolic terms, scare out of one's wits, is the oldest and, like silly, suggests one is frightened enough to lose one's mind. The verb scare dates from about 1200, and out of one's wits was first recorded in William Tyndale's translation of the Bible in 1526 (I Corinthians 14:23): "Will they not say that ye are out of your wits?" They were first put together in 1697, the same period from which came scare out of one's seven senses, a usage now obsolete. The variant using daylights, which sometimes occurs without living, dates from the 1950s. Daylights at one time referred to the eyes but here means "vital organs." Frighten to death was first recorded in Charles Dickens's Barnaby Rudge (1840) and scare to death probably appeared about the same time. However, to death used as an intensifier dates from the 1500s. These terms allude to the fact that a sudden fright can precipitate cardiac arrest. Scare stiff, first recorded in 1905, alludes to the temporary paralysis that can accompany intense fear. For the last variant, see also under pants off.
stiff as a board
Also, stiff as a poker. Inflexible, rigidly formal, unbending, as in This cloth is stiff as a board; what happened to it? or There he stood, stiff as a poker, unwilling to give an inch. The board in the first simile for rigidity is a slab of wood; the second, alluding to the iron implement used to push around logs in open fires, dates from the late 1700s.
a stiff upper lip
COMMON If someone has a stiff upper lip, they hide their emotions and do not let other people see if they are upset. I had always believed in keeping a stiff upper lip, crying in private, and putting on my best face for family and friends. His pathetic attempt to maintain a stiff upper lip failed. Note: You can also refer to the attitude or behaviour of people who do not like to show their emotions as the stiff upper lip. Another problem is the British stiff upper lip which prevents many patients from asking for painkillers for fear of appearing weak. Note: Not showing emotions is thought to be a national characteristic of the English.
stiff as a board
If you or your body are as stiff as a board, you are very stiff. You'll achieve flexibility very quickly with these exercises — even if you're as stiff as a board at your first session. His lower back felt as stiff as a board.
a stiff upper lipa quality of uncomplaining stoicism.
This is a characteristic particularly associated with the British but the phrase is apparently North American in origin, dating back to the mid 19th century. It is used, for example, in Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel Uncle Tom's Cabin, published in 1852 .
1998 Spectator The Princess…as her final gift to the British people, had unstarched their stiff upper lips.
(as) stiff as a ˈboard(of things) very firm and difficult to bend or move: He left his gloves outside in the snow, and when he found them again they were as stiff as a board.
(as) stiff as a ˈpoker(informal) (usually of people) very straight or upright in the way you sit or stand: The old lady was sitting upright in her chair, stiff as a poker.
a ˌstiff ˈdrinka strong alcoholic drink: That was a shock — I need a stiff drink!
(keep) a stiff upper ˈlipkeep calm and hide your feelings when you are in pain or in a difficult situation: The English gentleman is famous for his stiff upper lip.
mod. frightened; unable to move from fear. The poor little kid stood there—scared stiff. I was scared stiff for hours after the accident.
1. and stiffed mod. alcohol intoxicated; dead drunk. She knows how to stop drinking before she gets stiff.
2. n. a drunkard. Some stiff staggered by—belching clouds of some beery smell. The guy’s a stiff, and you want to run him for mayor? Even in this town that’s going too far.
3. mod. dead. (Originally underworld.) He’s stiff. There’s nothing that can be done.
4. n. a corpse. (Underworld.) They pulled another stiff out of the river last night. Looks like another mob killing.
5. n. a fellow worker; a fellow tramp. (Originally hobos.) This stiff wants some help finding a flop for the night.
6. tv. to fail to tip someone who expects it. Ya know, you can tell right away when a guy’s gonna stiff you—ya just know. I guess I get stiffed two, three times a day.
7. tv. to cheat someone. The clown selling hot dogs stiffed me for about forty cents.
See also: stiff
n. a working man; a man who must work to live. (see also stiff.) But does the working stiff really care about all this economic stuff?
keep a stiff upper lip
To be courageous or stoic in the face of adversity.
A hardworking employee. First heard in the 1930s, this phrase describes your average guy or gal who works at a not-very-interesting- or-stimulating job and for wages that mean a paycheck-to-paycheck existence. “Stiff ” might have come from muscle fatigues at the end of the day or week, but it's just as likely to be the slang word for “corpse,” which would reflect the idea of a working stiff in a dead-end job.