Etymology
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stiffen (v.)

early 15c., "make steadfast," from stiff (adj.) + -en (1). Intransitive sense from 1690s. Earlier verb was simply stiff "gain strength, become strong" (late 14c.). Related: Stiffened; stiffener; stiffening. Compare German steifen "to stiffen."

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Definitions of stiffen

stiffen (v.)
become stiff or stiffer;
He stiffened when he saw his boss enter the room
stiffen (v.)
make stiff or stiffer;
stiffen (v.)
severely restrict in scope or extent;
stiffen the regulations
Synonyms: tighten / tighten up / constrain
From wordnet.princeton.edu