1. in lit. senses.
(a) [mid-18C+] (orig. US) drunk; esp. very drunk and passed out cold; thus ext. stiff as a board; note earlier sense of stiff drinker n., a hard drinker.
(b) [mid-18C+] dead.
(c) [mid-19C+] pertaining to or describing an erection; thus stiffness n.
(d) [late 19C+] unconscious; implied in knock stiff
2. [early 19C+] strong, usu. of liquor, e.g. a stiff drink.
3. [early 19C+] demanding, difficult; thus stiffish, somewhat difficult.
4. [mid-19C] (UK Und.) reliable, staunch.
5. [mid-19C] of money, in the form of a bill of exchange or promissory note as opposed to cash [stiff n.1 (4a)].
6. [mid-19C+] (US) expensive; thus stiffish adv., expensively.
7. [late 19C-1930s] (orig. Aus.) uncompetitive.
8. [late 19C+] in negative senses.
(a) factually implausible; morally unacceptable.
(c) unlucky, unfortunate.
(d) as an expression meaning ‘hard luck’; the inference is that the speaker has very little actual sympathy.
9. [1920s+] of a blow, hard, painful.
10. [1950s] (US) of a cheque, counterfeit, fraudulent.
Pertaining to an erection
[mid-17C–19C] the erect penis.
[late 17C–19C] the erect penis.
[1990s+] a morning erection, experienced on waking up.
[mid-17C–19C] an erection; the erect penis; thus stiff-standing adj.
[mid-19C] (UK Und.) someone who is dependable, whether as a source of money or support.
1. [1950s] (US prison) a long prison sentence.
2. a criminal charge which one is not guilty of.
[20C+] (orig. US) to bore completely.
[late 19C] (Aus.) to lose (a race) deliberately.
[mid-19C–1900s] (US) strong whisky.
1. to knock unconscious or to shoot.
2. to amaze or impress; thus knocked stiff.
SE in slang uses
[1940s+] (US) to mistreat, to snub, to push aside.
[1930s+] supercilious, arrogant, standoffish.
[1960s–70s] a general term of derision.
[1970s+] (Aus./N.Z.) tough luck; the inference is that the speaker has very little actual sympathy.
[1910s+] (N.Z./Aus.) bad luck.
bad luck, the implication is of unfairness.
see stiff ’un n.
[early 18C–early 19C] a pompous, arrogant person; also as adj.; thus stiff-rumped adj., arrogant, pompous.
see stuffed shirt n.
[1980s+] (Aus.) hard luck; the inference is that the speaker has very little actual sympathy.
see separate entry.
[1930s–70s] (US black) to succeed, esp. in an illicit, but profitable, occupation.
1. physically stiff; rigid in posture.
2. [mid-19C] dead.
3. completely penniless.
[mid-18C+] very stiff.
[late 19C] resolute, determined.
[1910s] (Aus.) keen on.
[1990s+] to die.