Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English homepage

Date: 1300-1400
Origin: Probably from Old French estouffer 'to stifle'


1 [transitive] to stop something from happening or developing [≠ encourage]:
rules and regulations that stifle innovation
How can this party stifle debate on such a crucial issue?
2 [transitive] to stop a feeling from being expressed:
He stifled an urge to hit her.
stifle a yawn/smile/grin etc
I tried to stifle my laughter.
3 [intransitive,transitive usually passive] if you are stifled by something, it stops you breathing comfortably:
He was almost stifled by the fumes.

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