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


gridlocked; gridlocking; gridlocks

Definition of gridlock (Entry 2 of 2)

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

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Examples of gridlock in a Sentence

Noun 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 Those pushing the private sector to step up are not to blame for this gridlock; if anything, the investors betting on a net-zero-carbon future have every reason to wield their influence in support of policies that accelerate it. Eve Driver, Quartz, 15 Sep. 2021 In a highly partisan era, when most bills are stuck in gridlock, the parliamentarian's role in determining what policies can fit into budget reconciliation becomes much more important. Matthew Brown, USA TODAY, 20 Sep. 2021 But given the challenges of rolling out such regulation—from political gridlock to lack of international cooperation—the private sector must play a role in curbing carbon emissions. Eve Driver, Quartz, 15 Sep. 2021 Traffic at this point was in massive gridlock so cars were useless. Laura Johnston, cleveland, 5 Sep. 2021 In a scene eerily reminiscent of the chaotic 2018 evacuation of Paradise during the Camp Fire—when 86 people died, many in their cars on the road out of town—evacuees sat in gridlock, desperate to flee the approaching flames. Matt Simon, Wired, 1 Sep. 2021 Not everyone agreed as fierce winds kicked up dust and debris and drivers sat in gridlock., 31 Aug. 2021 Residents are stuck in gridlock trying to evacuate as the Caldor Fire approaches in South Lake Tahoe, Calif., on Monday. Phil Helsel, NBC News, 30 Aug. 2021 While Peruvians hoped for a break from political gridlock, Mr. Castillo, in his first week in office, may have only worsened it. Jocelyn Noveck, The Christian Science Monitor, 13 Aug. 2021

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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Time Traveler for gridlock

Time Traveler

The first known use of gridlock was in 1980

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Dictionary Entries Near gridlock

grid line



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Statistics for gridlock

Last Updated

22 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Gridlock.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Oct. 2021.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on gridlock

Nglish: Translation of gridlock for Spanish Speakers


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