stiffen up

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stiffen up

1. To become rigid and difficult to bend or fold. This material is very pliable when wet, but it stiffens up as soon as it gets dry. Using starch in the wash will cause the fabric to stiffen up.
2. To cause something to become rigid and difficult to bend or fold. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "stiffen" and "up." I'd like to find a way to stiffen up the brim of my hat. You'll need to use a special solution to stiffen the fabric up.
3. Of one's body part, to become difficult or painful to move or bend. Your muscles are going to stiffen up if you don't keep stretching and moving around. My wounded leg stiffened up while I was sleeping, making it hard to walk in the morning.
4. To cause one's body or body part to become difficult or painful to move or bend. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "stiffen" and "up." The spy stiffened up his neck as soon as he felt the cord being slipped around it. Make sure not to stiffen your arm up while the tattoo is being applied.
5. To become resistant to free or easy movement. After years of disuse, the hinges on these old gates have completely stiffened up. Make sure you keep the bicycle chain well lubricated so it doesn't stiffen up in this wet weather.
6. To cause something to become more resistant to free or easy movement. You should try stiffening the shocks up on your motorcycle. Exposure to moisture must have stiffened up the operating mechanism.
7. To become abruptly cold, reserved, or unreceptive, as in reaction to some appeal, suggestion, idea, etc. The boss always stiffens up whenever you try to ask for a budget increase. Jack stiffened up at the mere mention of Janet's name.
See also: up
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

stiffen something up

to make something rigid or tense. He added a little starch to the rinse water to stiffen his collars up a bit. The cold draft has stiffened up my neck.
See also: up

stiffen up

to become stiff. The bread dough stiffened up as it got cold. My knees began to stiffen up after I sat still for an hour.
See also: up
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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References in periodicals archive ?
The [VO.sub.2] of contracting muscle was 37.6 times larger than that of the stiffened dermis on average.
Natural selection favored good ol' boys who knew how to stiffen suspensions, soup up engines and invent driving tricks that made cars do things they'd never been designed for, like take hairpin mountain curves at a hundred mph or so.
3014 would stiffen tugboat regulation, require more effective fire-prevention equipment and increase operator licensing requirements.
The White House has a plan for every ill This country suffers from, or ever will: A plan to vaccinate each child right now, A plan to change each sword into a plow, A service corps to stiffen up our youth, A forest summit that will seek the truth On whether too much weight has been allotted To owls whose claim to fame is that they're spotted, A plan to make the airbus obsolete, A plan to change inspection rules for meat.
Glue scraps of 1/2-inch plywood between the layers to keep them equally spaced and to stiffen the shelf.
Over time, arteries stiffen and lose flexibility, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.
The penal code draft, according to its mandating reasons, aims to increase the severity of the penalty on some of the crimes, criminalize some of the assaults and stiffen the penalty on abuse of public money, attacks against on-duty civil servants, vehicle crimes, festive firing, hooliganism, crimes against water resources and facilities as well as measures to protect places of worship among others.
Although it has been established that natural rubber, polybutadiene and blends thereof age stiffen over time, even at ambient storage conditions (ref.
Those molecules protect joints by absorbing water and causing the tissue to stiffen as pressure is applied.
On one hand they stiffen the body when it is mechanically stimulated (Motokawa and Wainwright, 1991), which is very probably a defensive behavior.
(A) joints to stiffen, irritating surrounding muscles.
Volunteers aged 20 to 70 are being sought by medical researchers in Cardiff, who aim to discover how the blood vessels stiffen with age.
Jacoyia's grandmother was having a seizure, and the convulsions had caused her leg to stiffen on the accelerator before she passed out.
Adsorbed molecules stiffen a bubble by forming a shield on its surface, Liger-Belair says.