- 1Make (someone) unable to breathe properly; suffocate: those in the streets were stifled by the fumesMore example sentences
- The ground gave way as the plants pulled him down, knocking the wind out of his chest, and stealing the air he could have breathed by stifling him with their multitude.
- When the Indians set fire to the main building as well as the sheds, the flames fanned into a sunburst, and their smoke stifled the people of Fort Mims.
- Last night I went out and two ladies who were sitting at my table were stifling me with their perfume.
- 2Restrain (a reaction) or stop oneself acting on (an emotion): she stifled a giggleMore example sentences
- He stifled his immediate reaction, although he couldn't keep from tightening his jaw.
- He almost choked on his meat but managed to stifle his sudden reaction to her statement with a hastily gulp of water.
- He began to speak, but had to stop again to stifle a giggle.
- 2.1Prevent or constrain (an activity or idea): high taxes were stifling private enterpriseMore example sentences
- A county judge dismissed that case last April under a California law aimed at discouraging lawsuits that stifle constitutionally-protected activities.
- Taxes stifle enterprise only if they increase with enterprise.
- The malfunction of enterprises stifled the growth of innovative designers.
late Middle English: perhaps from a frequentative of Old French estouffer 'smother, stifle'.
(also stifle joint)
- A joint in the legs of horses, dogs, and other animals, equivalent to the knee in humans.More example sentences
- At necropsy all stifle joints were stable to an anterior drawer force with no significant limitations in passive range of motion.
- Alas, Tamarillo went down late last night with a knock to the stifle joint incurred over the cross-county and was withdrawn.
- It primarily occurs in the shoulder or elbow joints, but it can affect the hocks or stifles, too.
Middle English: of unknown origin.