stiff

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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.
See also: board, stiff

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.
See also: ramrod, stiff

a stiff upper lip

The ability to remain stoic during difficult situations. Primarily heard in UK, Australia. 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.
See also: lip, stiff, upper

bore (one) stiff

To cause one to be extremely bored, to the point of distraction, frustration, or irritation. Primarily heard in UK, Australia. Today's lecture bored me stiff.
See also: bore, stiff

bored silly

Extremely bored to the point of distraction, frustration, or irritation. I was bored silly listening to that lecture this afternoon.
See also: bore, silly

scare (someone) stiff

To shock or frighten someone very suddenly and/or severely. (Hyperbolically alludes to frightening someone so badly as to cause him or her to die.) 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.
See also: scare, stiff

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 cheddar!
See also: Cheddar, stiff

stiff cheese

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!
See also: cheese, stiff

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 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

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.
See also: lip, stiff, upper

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.
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

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.

stiffed

verb
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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