Green’s Dictionary of Slang

stiff adj.

[lit. and fig. uses of SE stiff, rigid]

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.

(b) impoverished.

(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

In compounds

stiff and stout (n.)

[mid-17C–19C] the erect penis.

stiff deity (n.)

[late 17C–19C] the erect penis.

stiff lock (n.) [rhy. sl. on cock n.3 (1)]

[1990s+] a morning erection, experienced on waking up.

stiff stander (n.)

[mid-17C–19C] an erection; the erect penis; thus stiff-standing adj.

Other uses

In compounds

stiff lad (n.)

[mid-19C] (UK Und.) someone who is dependable, whether as a source of money or support.

stiff rap (n.)

1. [1950s] (US prison) a long prison sentence.

2. a criminal charge which one is not guilty of.

In phrases

bore stiff (v.) [var. on SE bore rigid + SE stiff, corpse-like; one is rendered virtually dead by tedium]

[20C+] (orig. US) to bore completely.

go stiff (v.)

[late 19C] (Aus.) to lose (a race) deliberately.

knock-’em-stiff (n.)

[mid-19C–1900s] (US) strong whisky.

knock stiff (v.) [mid-19C–1920s] (US)

1. to knock unconscious or to shoot.

2. to amaze or impress; thus knocked stiff.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

stiff-arm (v.)

[1940s+] (US) to mistreat, to snub, to push aside.

stiff-arsed (adj.) (also stiff-assed) [-arsed sfx/-assed sfx]

[1930s+] supercilious, arrogant, standoffish.

stiff-ass (adj.) [-ass sfx]

[1960s–70s] a general term of derision.

stiff bikkies (n.) (also tough bikkies) [tough adj. (1) + bikkies n.]

[1970s+] (Aus./N.Z.) tough luck; the inference is that the speaker has very little actual sympathy.

stiff luck (n.)

bad luck, the implication is of unfairness.

stiff rump (n.)

[early 18C–early 19C] a pompous, arrogant person; also as adj.; thus stiff-rumped adj., arrogant, pompous.

stiff shit (n.) [fig. use of shit n. (1a)]

[1980s+] (Aus.) hard luck; the inference is that the speaker has very little actual sympathy.

stiff ’un (n.)

see separate entry.

In phrases

get on some stiff time (v.) [ety. unknown]

[1930s–70s] (US black) to succeed, esp. in an illicit, but profitable, occupation.

stiff as a crutch (adj.) [mid-19C+] (Aus./N.Z.)

1. physically stiff; rigid in posture.

2. [mid-19C] dead.

3. completely penniless.

4. certain.

stiff as a poker (adj.) (also stiff as a beaver board, …pike-staff, ...ramrod, ...starfish)

[mid-18C+] very stiff.

stiff in the back (adj.) [i.e. SE unbending]

[late 19C] resolute, determined.

stiff on (adj.)

[1910s] (Aus.) keen on.

stiff out (v.)

[1990s+] to die.