1. (Aus., also stiffen out) to die.
|Bulletin (Sydney) 15 Aug. 14/3: He has reminiscences of No. so-and-so, who had ‘stiffened out’ as he called it.|
|Bulletin (Sydney) 29 Aug. 5/3: The white men had an incorporated junk of yellow agony suspended by the neck from a she-oak, and were seated around on stumps betting drinks on how many kicks the son of Confucius would give before stiffening.|
2. (Aus.) in fig. use, to punish.
|Bulletin (Sydney) 12 July 7/4: A Sydney girl, aged fifteen, charged with stealing money, umbrellas, bags, &c., from little girls on their way to school, accounted for the possession of some money and property by saying it was given her by another girl to go ‘stiff’ in a race for a gold medal at a skating rink. She was further ‘stiffened’ by a sentence of seven days’ imprisonment and three years in Shaftsbury Reformatory.|
3. to kill, to murder; lit. or fig.
|Colonial Reformer II 56: ‘Stiffen those blank dingoes!’ roared Gregor.|
|Bulletin (Sydney) 19 Jul. 26/3: Among the remarks which the writer heard from the sex that boasts a gentle spirit and a murdered fowl in its hat were, ‘Lay them out!’ ‘Stiffen the brute!’ ‘Sling him, Ruddy; sling him!’.|
|Jonah 54: Serve the cow right [...] ’Ope it stiffens ’im! [Ibid.] 104: ‘Gawd, ’e’s stiffened ’im!’ ‘I ’eard ’is neck crack!’.|
|Townsville Daily Bull. (Qld) 3 June 12/4: I started to rip the floorin’ up in that hut so that I could stiffen that snake.|
|Come Day – Go Day (1984) 110: ‘Don’t answer me back, or I’ll stiffen you,’ Kitty shouted. ‘You good-for-nothing looking craythur!’.|
|Holy Smoke 12: I stiffen the bear with one flamin’ punch.|
4. (Aus., also stiffen out) to knock someone unconscious, thus stiffener, that which knocks one out (lit. or fig.).
|Bulletin (Sydney) 31 Jan. 6/3: [The yacht] was prominently brought under the notice of the British public [...] resultant upon her pugnacious commander having, on one fine morning, ‘flattened out,’ and ‘stiffened,’ and ‘shifted the ears,’ of a number of the crew and certain other people who had behaved in what Juba was pleased to consider an objectionable manner.|
|Truth (Sydney) 10 Mar. 5/5: Dibbs got a regular stiffener over his resolution.|
|Bulletin (Sydney) 13 Oct. 14/2: ‘That’s all blanky fine, [...] but look at my load! why didn’t you take a spreader and lay her out?’ ‘For God’s sake, don’t talk like that,’ said the husband, excited for the first time, ‘or she’ll stiffen the whole blanky lot of us!’.|
|Ohin-e-muri Gaz. (NZ) 27 Jan. 3/1: This person has on several occasions stated that he will willingly do three years in gaol to stiffen me out.|
|Jonah 127: They said yous ’ud stiffen me if I cum in.|
|Popular Sports June [Internet] So I’m to stiffen your tramp again, am I?‘Grappling Trilby’ in|
|Poor Man’s Orange 272: The right bloke had better get her, or I’ll stiffen him out, as God’s my judge.|
|Ringolevio 47: Solly [...] stiffened him with the sanded-down sock.|
|Chopper From The Inside 50: [It] slowed him down enough for the ex-champ to stiffen him with a very nice right uppercut.|
5. (Aus.) in fig. use, to ruin, to undermine, to ‘put paid to’; to interfere with a racehorse’s performance; thus n. stiffener, one who pursues such activties.
|Truth (Sydney) 3 Mar. 1/3: Favourites are ‘stiffened,’ ‘welchers’ won’t pay their debts, jockeys cheat their masters.|
|Truth (Sydney) 2 June 3/4: Sometimes the witnesses are ‘stiffened’ before the come before the Commission.|
|Truth (Sydney) 10 Jan. 3/7: But smart stiffener as he was, he never succeeded in inducing Old Ben [...] to put one in his ‘kick’.|
|Bulletin (Sydney) 8 Sept. 28/1: The English ’tecs, however, are going to ‘stiffen’ that game by simply taking their prisoner back ‘west-about,’ via Australia.|
|Sun. Times (Perth) 4 Sept. 4/7: So I tell the old Joe Rail / [...] / And I bluff ’em off and scale / When I’ve tipped a stiffened ’orse.|
|Morwell Advertiser (Vic.) 21 Dec. 2s/1: McCarthy, O’Connor, / And Jockey McDonagh, Arranged with the ‘bookies’ to ‘stiffen’ the nag.|
SE in slang uses
(orig. Aus.) an excl. of surprise, shock etc.
|Spats’ Fact’ry (1922) 66: ‘Stiffen me,’ said the bright young packer from the bag flat, ‘but how’s Donnie doin’ it?’.|
|Register (Adelaide) 16 Mar. 4/7: ‘Gawd stiffen the bees!’ croaked ‘Old Booze’.|
|Advocate (Burnie, Tas.) 2 July 2/4: [headline] Stiffen the Crows!|
|Townsville Daily Bull. (Qld) 10 Aug. 16/2: Stiffen the cow, he only knows Hennessy’s three star, an’ never does a bit of thinkin’ [...] when he’s sober.|
|Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW) 21 Nov. 3/2: Defendent: Stiffen the Crows! Conviction upheld? Judge: Yes.|
|World’s News (Sydney) 27 Apr. 28/2: ‘Any luck?’ the Professor asked. ‘He was seen at Diget this mornin’.’ ‘Diget!’ the Sheik exclaimed. ‘Stiffen the wombats! He’s travelling’ .|
|in Mass-Observation War Factory: Report 11: ‘Cor stiffen the crows!’ he exclaims. ‘Look at the fire!’.|
|None But the Lonely Heart 125: And as to them bleeding parsons. God stiffen the bloody rooks.|
|Aus. Lang. 91: Here are some well-established variations on the theme to show that we have not been idle even in simple matters: speed the wombats! stiffen the lizards! stiffen the snakes! and stiffen the wombats!|
|Northern Times (Carnarvon, WA) 9 Jan. 12/4: ‘Stiffen the lizards and strike me handsome!’ he exclaimed aloud.|
|Ridge and River (1966) 24: ‘Stiffen the crows!’ White whispered to Pinkie Evans.|
|Argus (Melbourne) 2 July 41/2: ‘Stiffen the pigs’ and ‘Stone the crows’.|
|Argus (Melbourne) 22 Mar. 4/5: Stiffen the wombats.|
|(con. 1940s) Glory Thrown In (1961) 14: Gawd stiffen the wombats!|
|Fair Go, Spinner 1631: ‘Stiffen the lizards!’ shouted the cocky. [Ibid.] 190: Stiffen the wombats, Harry! [...] you’ve woke the wrong bloody man!|
|Eng. Lang. in Aus. and N.Z. 100: Such forms as [...] stiffen the lizards.|
|Dict. of Kiwi Sl. 107/2: stiffen the crows! exclamation of surprise and/or shock.|
|Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl. [as cit. 1988].|