1. [late 18C+] a corpse; also used fig.
2. attrib. use of sense 1.
3. [late 19C+] an erection; thus [1970s+] (US black) sport a stiff, to have an erection.
4. pertaining to any form of document.
(a) [early 19C–1930s] (also cross-stiff) paper, a document, esp. a promissory note or bill of exchange, a clandestine letter.
(b) [mid-19C–1900s] (US Und.) a newspaper.
(c) [mid-19C–1930s] a currency note or cheque, whether genuine or forged.
(d) [mid-19C+] (Aus./N.Z./US/UK Und.) a note, usu. between prisoners or passed illicitly into a prison by a relation etc.
(e) a begging letter.
(f) [late 19C–1960s] a letter.
(g) [late 19C–1910s] a hawker’s licence, or similar licence.
(h) [late 19C–1930s] money in general.
(i) [late 19C–1940s] (US Und.) a piece of counterfeit money.
(j) [late 19C] a poster.
(k) [20C+] (Aus./N.Z.) a summons from the police.
(l) (Aus.) a free pass.
(m) [1910s] the identification of a person targeted to be murdered, a murder contract.
(n) [1910s] (US Und.) a prescription.
5. in fig./ext. uses of sense 1.
(a) [late 19C+] (US) a penniless man, a wastrel, a tramp, a migratory or unskilled worker.
(b) [late 19C+] a disagreeable, or contemptible person; also used joc./affectionately.
(c) [late 19C+] (US) a mean, grasping person.
(d) [late 19C+] an average person, often with a description, e.g. working stiff n.
(e) [20C+] (US Und.) a funeral.
(f) [20C+] a drunkard.
(g) [late 19C+] (horseracing) a useless, losing horse [abbr. stiff ’un n.].
(h) [20C+] (US) any failure, a flop; in sport, a second-rater.
(i) [1900s–40s] (US tramp) a tramp that has a job or occupation.
6. see stiff ’un n. (4)
[early 19C] a dealer in promissory notes.
[late 19C] one who borrows against fraudulent promissory notes.
[mid-19C] a street-seller of writing paper.
[1920s] a professional letter writer.
[1910s] (US Und.) a hearse.
1. [late 19C+] (orig. US) a general term of abuse, a fool.
2. as a direct term of address, you big stiff!
1. [late 19C] an erection, in the context of sexual intercourse; usu. as give a bit of snug for a bit of stiff v., to have sexual intercourse (cf. bit of snug under snug n.).
2. [mid-19C–1900s] money as notes or bills of exchange; thus do a bit of stiff v., to accept a post-dated cheque or promissory note.
[1900s–40s] (US) a ‘sandwich man’.
[1910s–20s] (US tramp) a cowboy.
see sense 4a above.
[late 19C] (US) a pardon.
[1930s] (US tramp) a tramp who spends all day in different bread lines.
[1960s] (US) a clerk.
[1910s–20s] (US tramp) a tramp who refuses to perform manual labour.
[1940s] (N.Z.) a lookout or sentinel acting on behalf of a licensee selling alcoholic drinks after the legal closing time.
[1920s] (US tramp) an intinerant seller of worthless jewellery at fraudulently inflated prices.