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bore someone stiff

 and 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.
See also: bore, stiff

bored silly

 and 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.
See also: bore, silly

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.
See also: keep, lip, stiff, upper

scare someone stiff

Fig. to frighten someone severely. (Stiff = dead.) That loud noise scared me stiff. The robber jumped out and scared us stiff.
See also: scare, stiff

scared stiff

Fig. badly frightened. We were scared stiff by the robber. I was scared stiff when the dog growled at me.
See also: scare, stiff

*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.
See also: poker, stiff

working stiff

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.
See also: stiff, working

bore somebody to death

to make someone lose interest completely Herman was bored to death by the stories Arlie told.
See also: bore, death

scared stiff

extremely frightened Jill awoke from a dream that left her afraid - scared stiff, in fact.
Etymology: from the idea that you are stiff (unable to bend or change your position) because you are too frightened to move
See also: scare, stiff

be bored to death/tears

  (informal) also be bored stiff (informal)
to be very bored The speeches went on for an hour. I was bored to death.
See also: bore, death

Hard/Tough cheddar!

  (British & Australian informal) also Stiff cheddar! (Australian informal)
something that you say to or about someone to whom something bad has happened in order to show that you have no sympathy for them It's about time Richard realized that he can't have everything his own way - tough cheddar, that's what I say!
See also: hard

Hard/Tough cheese!

  (British & Australian informal) also Stiff cheese! (Australian informal)
something that you say to or about someone to whom something bad has happened in order to show that you have no sympathy for them So he's fed up because he's got to get up early one morning in seven, is he? Well hard cheese!
See Say cheese!
See also: hard

be as stiff/straight as a ramrod

if someone is as stiff as a ramrod, they stand or sit with their back very straight and stiff At eighty-three, he's still as straight as a ramrod.
See also: ramrod, stiff

a stiff upper lip

an ability to stay calm and not show feelings of sadness or fear You weren't allowed to show emotion in those days. You had to keep a stiff upper lip at all times. I never once saw my father cry or show any sign of vulnerability - it's that old British stiff upper lip.
See also: lip, stiff, upper

be as stiff as a board

1. to be very stiff It's so cold out there - the washing was as stiff as a board when I brought it in off the line.
2. if you are as stiff as a board, your body feels stiff and hurts when you try to move it, usually after a lot of physical exercise I cycled fifty miles yesterday and when I woke this morning I was as stiff as a board.
See Hard cheddar!, Hard cheese!, be as stiff as a ramrod
See also: board, stiff

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.
See also: bore, death

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]
See also: keep, lip, stiff, upper

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.
See also: of, out, scare, wit

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.
See also: board, stiff

scared stiff

mod. frightened; unable to move from fear. The poor little kid stood there—scared stiff. I was scared stiff for hours after the accident.
See also: scare, stiff


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 stiff
See also: stiff

working 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?
See also: stiff, working

keep a stiff upper lip

To be courageous or stoic in the face of adversity.
See also: keep, lip, stiff, upper

working stiff

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.
See also: stiff, working
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