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 Kelly offers himself as a centrist driven by science, committed to protecting insurance coverage and willing to bring a fresh voice to the partisan gridlock in Washington. Ronald J. Hansen, The Arizona Republic, "Martha McSally to debate Mark Kelly with Supreme Court future on line," 6 Oct. 2020 The organization is still pushing for this legislation, but since then -- with Congress stuck in partisan gridlock over a new relief package -- there has been little progress in getting it through. Taylor Mims, Billboard, "Venues Closing Across America: An Updating List (And Why It Matters)," 18 Sep. 2020 At the federal level, 32 bills have been introduced, according to the Policing Project, but none have passed and aren't likely to, given the bipartisan gridlock in Congress. Theresa Waldrop, CNN, "California failed to pass a major police reform bill. Here's what experts say that could mean for the rest of the nation," 11 Sep. 2020 During a campaign speech Wednesday, Biden said one reason there is gridlock in Washington is because a number of congressional Republicans will not approve new policies that might add to government borrowing levels. Jeff Stein, Anchorage Daily News, "U.S. government debt will nearly equal size of economy for first time since World War II, CBO finds," 3 Sep. 2020 Down in the polls and knowing that mail-in votes could prove critical during the COVID-19 pandemic, Trump hoped that gridlock in the postal system might give him an excuse to question the vote’s legitimacy, the story went. Star Tribune, "Incompetence is at the root of Postal Service's woes," 28 Aug. 2020 Congress allowed those higher payments to lapse on Aug. 1, and negotiations to extend them have been mired in partisan gridlock, with the White House and Democrats miles apart. Jonathan Lemire And Zeke Miller, Houston Chronicle, "Trump orders more unemployment pay, a payroll tax deferral," 8 Aug. 2020 In light of this gridlock, a question has arisen about what to do if Joe Biden wins the Presidency and the Democrats retake the Senate. Jeffrey Toobin, The New Yorker, "Harry Reid on the Senate, the Supreme Court, and a Time for Major Change," 29 Sep. 2020 For transit agencies in the middle of a pandemic, it’s one of the only ways to solve overcrowding if thousands of people try to pour back into downtown skyscrapers. San Francisco has already seen the return of gridlock in June. Michael J. Coren, Quartz, "Americans still aren’t driving to work," 24 Sep. 2020

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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Statistics for gridlock

Last Updated

21 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Gridlock.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for gridlock


How to pronounce gridlock (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for gridlock

Nglish: Translation of gridlock for Spanish Speakers

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