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stiffen - definition and synonyms


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verb stiffen pronunciation in British English /ˈstɪf(ə)n/
Word Forms
present tense
present participlestiffening
past tensestiffened
past participlestiffened
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  1. 1
    [intransitive] to suddenly hold your body in a stiff way, often because you become nervous, worried, angry, or unfriendly

    She stiffened as the footsteps came closer and closer.

    stiffen with/in:

    He stiffened with rage.

  2. 2



    stiffen up

    [intransitive] to become stiff and difficult to move

    Her old fingers were stiffening up now.

    Synonyms and related words
    1. a.



      stiffen up

      [transitive] to make something stiff

      He sat up straight, stiffening his back.

  3. 3
    [intransitive/transitive] if your resolve or resistance stiffens, or if you stiffen it, you become more determined
    stiffen someone’s resistance:

    The army stiffened their resistance.

    stiffen someone’s resolve:

    The air attack only served to stiffen the enemy’s resolve.


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