Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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STIFE, n., v. Also st(e)yfe; stoif. [stəif]

I. n. A close, suffocating atmosphere, a choking vapour or smoke, a smoky sulphurous smell (Dmf. s.Sc. 1825 Jam.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; s.Sc. 1971). Also in n.Eng. dial. Bwk. c.1830  W. Brockie Leaderside Leg. (1876) 46:
Yer bairntime amang styfe and reek In clarty closes spent.
Sc. 1928  J. G. Horne Lan'wart Loon 22:
The birslin' lunt an' reek an' stife.

II. v. To choke, suffocate. Ppl.adj. stifin, stifling (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Lnk., Ayr. 1971). Comb. st(e)yfe eyne, dense drifting snow (ne.Sc. c.1855 Abd. Jnl. N. & Q. VIII. 115; Bnff. 1927). For eyne see Aynd, breath, and cf. Smore, n., but it is somewhat uncertain whether this expression belongs here. Cf. Stith, I. 3.

[Appar. a back-formation from stifle.]

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"Stife n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Nov 2019 <>



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