AskDefine | Define stiffness

Dictionary Definition



1 the physical property of being inflexible and hard to bend
2 the property of moving with pain or difficulty; "he awoke with a painful stiffness in his neck"
3 the inelegance of someone stiff and unrelaxed (as by embarrassment) [syn: awkwardness, clumsiness, gracelessness]
4 excessive sternness; "severity of character"; "the harshness of his punishment was inhuman"; "the rigors of boot camp" [syn: severity, harshness, rigor, rigour, inclemency, hardness]

User Contributed Dictionary




Extensive Definition

''For pain and/or loss of range of motion of a joint, see joint stiffness
Stiffness is the resistance of an elastic body to deflection or deformation by an applied force. It is an extensive material property.


The stiffness, k, of a body is
P is the applied force
δ is the deflected distance
In the International System of Units, stiffness is typically measured in newtons per metre.
As both the applied force and deflection are vectors (respectively P and δ), in general their relationship is characterised by a stiffness matrix, k, where:
P=k \delta \,
The deflection can, in general, refer to a point distinct from that where the force is applied and a complicated structure will not deflect purely in the same direction as an applied force. The stiffness matrix enables such systems to be characterised in straightforward terms.
The inverse of stiffness is compliance, typically measured in units of metres per newton.

Rotational stiffness

A body may also have a rotational stiffness, k, given by
M is the applied moment
θ is the rotation
In the SI system, rotational stiffness is typically measured in newton-metres per radian.
In the SAE system, rotational stiffness is typically measured in inch-pounds per degree.
Further measures of stiffness are derived on a similar basis, including:
  • shear stiffness - ratio of applied shear force to shear deformation
  • torsional stiffness - ratio of applied torsion moment to angle of twist

Relationship to elasticity

In general, elastic modulus is not the same as stiffness. Elastic modulus is a property of the constituent material; stiffness is a property of a solid body. That is, the modulus is an intensive property of the material; stiffness, on the other hand, is an extensive property of the solid body dependent on the material and the shape and boundary conditions. For example, for an element in tension or compression, the axial stiffness is
A is the cross-sectional area,
E is the Young's modulus,
L is the length of the element.
For the special case of unconstrained uniaxial tension or compression, Young's modulus of elasticity can be thought of as a measure of the stiffness of a material.

Use in engineering

The stiffness of a structure is of principal importance in many engineering applications, so the modulus of elasticity is often one of the primary properties considered when selecting a material. A high modulus of elasticity is sought when deflections are undesirable, while a low modulus of elasticity is required when flexibility is needed.
stiffness in Catalan: Rigidesa
stiffness in German: Steifigkeit
stiffness in Spanish: Rigidez
stiffness in Italian: Rigidezza
stiffness in Japanese: 剛性
stiffness in Dutch: Stijfheid
stiffness in Portuguese: Rigidez
stiffness in Russian: Жёсткость
stiffness in Chinese: 剛度

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

adamantness, aridity, barrenness, bloodlessness, buckram, ceremonial, ceremoniousness, ceremony, characterlessness, cohesiveness, colorlessness, costliness, deadness, dearness, dignity, dismalness, dourness, dragginess, dreariness, dryness, dullness, durability, dustiness, effeteness, emptiness, etiolation, extrinsicality, firmness, flatness, flintiness, form, formality, formalization, fundamentalism, gravity, great cost, grimness, hard-bittenness, hard-nosedness, hardiness, hardness, heaviness, highness, hollowness, immovability, immutability, impliability, inanity, inelasticity, inexcitability, inexorability, inflexibility, infrangibility, insipidity, insipidness, intransigeance, intransigence, intransigency, intransigentism, irreconcilability, jejunity, lastingness, leadenness, leatherlikeness, lifelessness, lowness of spirit, luxuriousness, obduracy, obdurateness, obstinacy, orthodoxy, paleness, pallor, pointlessness, pokiness, pomp, pomposity, ponderousness, precisianism, primness, purism, puritanism, relentlessness, renitence, renitency, resistance, richness, rigidity, rigidness, rigor, rigorism, rigorousness, ritual, rituality, ropiness, slowness, solemnity, spiritlessness, stamina, starchiness, steeliness, steepness, sterility, sternness, stiff temper, stiltedness, stodginess, strength, stringiness, stubbornness, stuffiness, stylization, sumptuousness, superficiality, tastelessness, tautness, tediousness, tenacity, tenseness, tension, tensity, tightness, toughness, unalterability, unbendingness, unbreakability, unbreakableness, unchangeability, uncompromisingness, ungivingness, uninterestingness, unliveliness, unrelentingness, unyieldingness, vapidity, vapidness, viscidity, vitality, weight, woodenness
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