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Alternative forms[edit]


From the meaning in golf (where the stymie ball blocks the other ball from "seeing" the hole), perhaps from Scots stymie, stimie (person with poor eyesight), from Scots stime (the least bit).[1][2] Or from Scots styme (tiny bit, glimmer) as in se nocht ane styme (not to see a glimmer (of something)).[3][4] If so, it is a doublet of stime.


  • (file)
  • IPA(key): /ˈstaɪmi/
  • Rhymes: -aɪmi


stymie (plural stymies)

  1. (golf) A situation where an opponent's ball is directly in the way of one's own ball and the hole, on the putting green (abolished 1952).
  2. (by extension) An obstacle or obstruction.
    • 1922, P. G. Wodehouse, The Clicking of Cuthbert[1]:
      Mary, will you be mine? Shall we go round together? Will you fix up a match with me on the links of life which shall end only when the Grim Reaper lays us both a stymie?


stymie (third-person singular simple present stymies, present participle stymieing or stymying, simple past and past participle stymied)

  1. To thwart or stump; to cause to fail or to leave hopelessly puzzled, confused, or stuck.
    Synonyms: block, thwart
    They had lost the key, and the lock stymied the first three locksmiths they called.
    If writing dates has you stymied at times, it is probably for one of two reasons. [2]
    • 2005, Tony Judt, “The Rehabilitation of Europe”, in Postwar: A history of Europe since 1945, London: Vintage Books, published 2010, →ISBN:
      It constrained governments, businesses and labour unions to collaborate in planning increased rates of output and the conditions likely to facilitate them. And above all, it blocked any return to the temptations that had so stymied the inter-war economy: under-production, mutually destructive protectionism, and a collapse of trade.
    • 2007 January 21, Joyce Cohen, “Beauty in the Eye of the Renter”, in New York Times[3]:
      I was making such a drama in my head it was stymieing me.
    • 2018 July 1, John Rennie, “This Mutation Math Shows How Life Keeps on Evolving”, in Wired[4]:
      In populations that have “burst” and “path” structures, for example, individuals can never occupy positions in the graph that their ancestors held. Those structures stymie evolution by denying advantageous mutations any chance to take over a population.
  2. (golf) To bring into the position of, or impede by, a stymie.



  1. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2023), “stymie”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.
  2. ^ stymie”, in Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, 1996–present.
  3. ^ stymie in the Word Detective
  4. ^ stymie”, in The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th edition, Boston, Mass.: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016, →ISBN.

Further reading[edit]