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See also: štifle


Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English stiflen, from Old Norse stífla (to dam, choke, stop up), from stífla (dam), from Proto-Germanic *stīfilaz, *stīfilą (prop, pole, support), from Proto-Indo-European *steip-, *steib- (stake, picket). Cognate with Icelandic stífla (to dam up, jam, block), Norwegian stivla (to dam up, choke, stop), Low German stipel (support wood).



stifle (plural stifles)

  1. A hind knee of various mammals, especially horses.
  2. (veterinary medicine) A bone disease of this region.



stifle (third-person singular simple present stifles, present participle stifling, simple past and past participle stifled)

  1. (transitive) To interrupt or cut off.
  2. (transitive) To repress, keep in or hold back.
    • (Can we date this quote by Waterland and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      I desire only to have things fairly represented as they really are; no evidence smothered or stifled.
    • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 15, in The Mirror and the Lamp:
      Edward Churchill still attended to his work in a hopeless mechanical manner like a sleep-walker who walks safely on a well-known round. But his Roman collar galled him, his cossack stifled him, his biretta was as uncomfortable as a merry-andrew's cap and bells.
    • 2011 October 29, Neil Johnston, “Norwich 3-3 Blackburn”, in BBC Sport:
      In fact, there was no suggestion of that, although Wolves deployed men behind the ball to stifle the league leaders in a first-half that proved very frustrating for City.
    The army stifled the rebellion.
  3. (transitive) To smother or suffocate.
    • (Can we date this quote by John Dryden and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      Stifled with kisses, a sweet death he dies.
    • (Can we date this quote by Jonathan Swift and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      I took my leave, being half stifled with the closeness of the room.
    The heat was stifling the children.
  4. (intransitive) To feel smothered etc.
    The heat felt stifling.
  5. (intransitive) To die of suffocation.
    Two firemen tragically stifled in yesterday's fire when trying to rescue an old lady from her bedroom.
  6. (transitive) To treat a silkworm cocoon with steam as part of the process of silk production.




  • stifle” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2020.