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)
- A hind knee of various mammals, especially horses.
- (veterinary medicine) A bone disease of this region.
- (transitive) To interrupt or cut off.
- (transitive) To repress, keep in or hold back.
- 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.
- (transitive) To smother or suffocate.
- John Dryden
- Stifled with kisses, a sweet death he dies.
- Jonathan Swift
- I took my leave, being half stifled with the closeness of the room.
The heat was stifling the children.
- John Dryden
- (intransitive) To feel smothered etc.
The heat felt stifling.
- (intransitive) To die of suffocation.
Two firemen tragically stifled in yesterday's fire when trying to rescue an old lady from her bedroom.
- (transitive) To treat a silkworm cocoon with steam as part of the process of silk production.
- (to die of suffocation): See also Thesaurus:die
- (To repress or hold back): hinder, restrain, suppress, throttle