Stymie refers to a situation or obstacle that prevents progress or hinders someone’s efforts to achieve a goal. It is often used to describe a difficult or perplexing problem that is hard to overcome or find a solution to. In particular, the term is commonly used in discussions about challenges, setbacks, or complications that impede or obstruct the desired outcome.


US English

UK English

Part of Speech

verb (stymie)


hinder, impede, obstruct, block, thwart, hamper, frustrate, sabotage, impede


facilitate, assist, promote, aid, help, expedite

Word Forms

Part of Speech Words
Noun stymies, stymie
Verb stymies, stymie, stymied, stymieing
Adjective None
Adverb None

Example Sentences

  • The lack of funding for the project has stymied our efforts to move forward and achieve our goals.

  • The intricate maze of regulations and bureaucratic red tape has continuously stymied small businesses from flourishing.

  • Despite his best intentions, his lack of experience in the field often stymies his ability to make sound decisions.

  • The unexpected weather conditions threw a curveball and stymied the construction team’s progress on the building project.


The word “stymie” has an interesting history with usage that dates back to the game of golf. Originally, “stymie” referred to a situation on the putting green in which one player’s ball was directly in the line of another player’s ball, creating an obstacle to making a successful putt. In this sense, it described a physical obstruction that hindered progress.

Over time, the term “stymie” gained a metaphorical sense and extended its usage beyond the golf course. It began to be used in a broader context to describe any situation or obstacle that impedes progress or frustrates one’s efforts to achieve a goal. The term took on a more abstract and figurative meaning, indicating a challenge or complication that makes it difficult to proceed smoothly.

Etymologically, the word “stymie” does not contain any recognizable prefixes or suffixes. It is thought to have originated from the Scots language, and ultimately, its roots can be traced back to the Old Norse word “stīmma,” which meant to stop or hinder.

Today, “stymie” is commonly used in both formal and informal contexts to describe various kinds of obstacles and difficulties. It can be used in personal, professional, or academic settings to convey the idea of being impeded or obstructed from achieving desired outcomes. Its figurative use has firmly established “stymie” as a versatile word in the English language.