grid·​lock | \ ˈgrid-ˌläk \

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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

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 The bad news for motorists: Officials say all the activity will cause worse gridlock than the traffic jams during the Thanksgiving Day Parade, the tree-lighting ceremony at Rockefeller Center and the New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square. Tom Hays, Fox News, "Police beef up security for UN gathering, Trump visit," 22 Sep. 2018 Power in Delhi is shared by the local and national governments, which are controlled by different political parties, leading to bureaucratic gridlock. New York Times, "‘The Dump Killed My Son’: Mountains of Garbage Engulf India’s Capital," 10 June 2018 Fiscal concerns and political gridlock in the U.S. are two key factors that could weigh on the currency in coming months, analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch wrote in a note to clients. Ira Iosebashvili, WSJ, "Dollar Weakens Slightly as U.S., China Resume Talks," 13 Nov. 2018 While the potential for political gridlock in Washington increases, the market reaction has not been nearly as volatile as after other political events, such as the 2016 presidential vote. Marley Jay, The Seattle Times, "Stocks gain after midterms as tech, health care, energy rise," 7 Nov. 2018 Opponents say another convention, with no guarantee of success, could ultimately be a waste of time and money given the state's current political gridlock. Lsu Manship School News Service,, "Rewrite of Louisiana Constitutution could happen in 2020 if bill keeps moving forward," 15 Mar. 2018 But the combination of gridlock, environmental concern, and frankly, urban necessity has created the conditions to begin rethinking how this country gets around. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "Public transit’s missed opportunity," 20 Nov. 2018 If history is any guide, the next two years could see extreme gridlock on Capitol Hill, with even routine spending bills becoming a vicious fight between the two chambers. Dylan Scott, Vox, "Republicans will hold on to their Senate majority," 7 Nov. 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

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Statistics for gridlock

Last Updated

5 Jan 2019

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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

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