grid·​lock | \ ˈgrid-ˌläk How to pronounce gridlock (audio) \

Definition of gridlock

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a traffic jam in which a grid of intersecting streets is so completely congested that no vehicular movement is possible
2 : a situation resembling gridlock (as in congestion or lack of movement) political gridlock



Definition of gridlock (Entry 2 of 2)

: 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

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Examples of gridlock in a Sentence


An accident caused gridlock at rush hour yesterday. We were caught in a gridlock. Disagreements about funding have caused legislative gridlock in Congress.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Today, a team of traffic specialists works out of a trailer at the airport armed with data on anticipated hourly passenger numbers and with a playbook for how to open and close roads whenever gridlock threatens. Paul Berger, WSJ, "LaGuardia’s High-Flying Makeover Has Travelers Doing Double-Takes," 23 Feb. 2019 In April of last year, President Trump signed what looked like a feel-good bipartisan bill in an era of congressional gridlock. Teen Vogue, "The 2020 Democratic Candidates Who Voted in Favor of SESTA/FOSTA," 2 Apr. 2019 Rising bond prices, spurred by the likelihood of political gridlock, weighed on banks since lower yields tends to crimp lenders’ profitability. WSJ, "New Winners and Losers Emerge in Stock Market After Midterms," 7 Nov. 2018 Van Collinsworth, director of Preserve Wild Santee, said the group’s Santee General Plan Protection Initiative will protect Santee from overdevelopment and traffic gridlock. Karen Pearlman,, "Traffic woes in Santee have developer eyeing ways to help community," 11 June 2018 Winner: Dick’s Sporting Goods In February, after a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, killing 17 students and faculty and injuring more than a dozen others, the nation was in gridlock over gun control. Chavie Lieber, Vox, "A breakdown of this year’s brand winners and losers.," 27 Dec. 2018 Buy Photo Philadelphia is exploring turning to civilian traffic enforcement to ease gridlock on the streets, but the idea itself may get jammed without the support of state legislators and the city’s police. Jason Laughlin,, "Police union opposes using civilian workers for traffic enforcement in Philly," 25 Jan. 2018 Laws like the 1946 Administrative Procedure Act mandated citizen feedback to new regulations, but Brill argues that interest groups have weaponized due process to guarantee gridlock. New York Times, "America Has Gone Off the Rails. Steven Brill Sees Ways to Get It Back on Track.," 2 July 2018 In Chicago, motorists will find a virtual gridlock on area highways between 4 p.m.- 6 p.m. that day. Tessa Weinberg,, "Record number of travelers expected Fourth of July, creating gridlock on Chicago roads, elsewhere," 21 June 2018

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.

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First Known Use of gridlock


1980, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1981, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for gridlock

Last Updated

25 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for gridlock

The first known use of gridlock was in 1980

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More Definitions for gridlock



English Language Learners Definition of gridlock

: a situation in which streets are so full that vehicles cannot move
: a situation in which no progress can be made

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More from Merriam-Webster on gridlock

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with gridlock

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for gridlock

Spanish Central: Translation of gridlock

Nglish: Translation of gridlock for Spanish Speakers

Comments on gridlock

What made you want to look up gridlock? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


incapable of being surmounted or overcome

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