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

Definition of gridlock

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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from gridlock

gridlock transitive verb

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

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 That’s a sure-fire formula for two years of legislative gridlock and positioning for the 2020 presidential and congressional elections. Alan Fram, The Seattle Times, "GOP keeps Senate control for 2 more years, triumph for Trump," 7 Nov. 2018 Alexander-Murray would have been, for all its policy modesty, a rather remarkable political achievement after eight years of partisan gridlock over Obamacare that culminated in last year’s dramatic debate. Dylan Scott, Vox, "Lamar Alexander, pillar of Washington’s old guard, is retiring from the Senate," 17 Dec. 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.

See More

First Known Use of gridlock

1980, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about gridlock

Statistics for gridlock

Last Updated

13 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for gridlock

The first known use of gridlock was in 1980

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


an act or instance of returning to life

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Latin Quiz

  • roman forum
  • Which of the following months comes from a Latin word for “ten”?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!