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grid·​lock ˈgrid-ˌläk How to pronounce gridlock (audio)
: a traffic jam in which a grid of intersecting streets is so completely congested that no vehicular movement is possible
: a situation resembling gridlock (as in congestion or lack of movement)
political gridlock


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gridlocked; gridlocking; gridlocks

transitive + intransitive

: to cause to be in a state or situation in which movement or progress is stopped completely : to produce gridlock in or of
streets gridlocked by heavy traffic
a government gridlocked by partisan rancor
Neighbors of the proposed site near the intersection … told commissioners they were concerned the school would bring hundreds of additional cars to the area, further gridlocking already bumper-to-bumper traffic.Kyra Gurney
Almost immediately, heavy rains had gridlocked the narrow supply trail from Siboney on the coast.Michael Blow
also : to experience gridlock
This statement came while Congress gridlocked yet again on a campaign finance measure. David Corn

Example Sentences

Noun An accident caused gridlock at rush hour yesterday. We were caught in a gridlock. Disagreements about funding have caused legislative gridlock in Congress.
Recent Examples on the Web
Biden spent less time articulating a vision for the next year ahead of gridlock in Congress. Joey Garrison, USA TODAY, 8 Feb. 2023 While federal agencies have filed antitrust lawsuits against tech companies, congressional efforts to pass new laws that would bolster anti-competition standards have languished amid political gridlock. Cat Zakrzewski, Washington Post, 1 Feb. 2023 The worst of more than 1,000 major cities reviewed was London, where the average Brit faced 156 hours of gridlock. Travis Andersen,, 11 Jan. 2023 Divided government sparks fears of gridlock, a legislative standstill. Matt Harris, The Conversation, 9 Dec. 2022 The results can be messy, sometimes forcing a change of policy, a change of leader, or a period of gridlock as arguments inside and outside government determine what comes next. Ned Temko, The Christian Science Monitor, 8 Dec. 2022 As sweeping demographic change has escalated in recent decades—a surge in immigration and a sorting of the parties between cities and suburbs for Democrats and rural counties for Republicans—so too have disputed elections and the threat of gridlock. Hamilton Cain, The Atlantic, 28 Nov. 2022 So now that Biden and the Democrats seem to have more momentum, should investors be worried that there won’t be gridlock after all? Paul R. La Monica, CNN, 6 Oct. 2022 Hurricane Ian reduced traffic in Florida, but a big increase in New York City gridlock more than made up for it. Dan Molinski, WSJ, 30 Sep. 2022
Management’s proposal called for the threshold to be dropped to $180 million, another factor that may gridlock many free agent negotiations., 24 Oct. 2021 Management’s proposal called for the threshold to be dropped to $180 million, another factor that may gridlock many free agent negotiations. Ronald Blum,, 24 Oct. 2021 Management’s proposal called for the threshold to be dropped to $180 million, another factor that may gridlock many free agent negotiations. Ronald Blum,, 24 Oct. 2021 To view them as part of the landscape, like the Golden Gate Bridge or gridlock on 880. Ann Killion, San Francisco Chronicle, 17 May 2021 The crowd roared approval at the idea that their movement would gridlock the city if jurors hearing the case against former police officer Derek Chauvin failed to convict him in Floyd's death. Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY, 25 Apr. 2021 That policy change, according to mailing and logistics experts, would gridlock the entire postal network. Anchorage Daily News, 25 Feb. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'gridlock.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use


1980, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1981, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of gridlock was in 1980

Dictionary Entries Near gridlock

Cite this Entry

“Gridlock.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Mar. 2023.

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