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

Keep scrolling for more

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: Noun

That sort of gridlock between the military and civilians could lead to the kind of street protests that preceded the recent coups. Washington Post, "Why Thailand’s Junta Is Cool With an Election," 18 Sep. 2019 In July, after years of gridlock in Congress — and following a public shaming led by Stewart — legislators ensured long-term funding for the Sept. 11 Victim Compensation Fund. Diane Herbst,, "9/11 Still Claiming Victims: 10,000 With Cancers, Thousands More With Other Illnesses," 11 Sep. 2019 Four days of vehicular gridlock begin near the George Washington Bridge when two of three approach lanes from Fort Lee, N.J., are blocked off. Fox News, "This Day in History: Sept. 9," 9 Sep. 2019 The nationwide cost of gridlock has grown more than tenfold to $166 billion a year. Gary Richards, The Mercury News, "Bay Area traffic delays rank second longest in nation," 22 Aug. 2019 After years of partisan gridlock, the conversation on gun control appears to be moving forward, as public support for certain measures grows and the president casts an eye toward suburban votes. The Christian Science Monitor, "The green grass grows all around," 9 Aug. 2019 With Congress away from Washington for a five-week recess, and the parties intractably divided, the odds appear stacked in favor of gridlock. Matthew Daly, Twin Cities, "After shootings, Congress again weighs gun violence response," 5 Aug. 2019 Government ministers argue that the country cannot afford another two years of gridlock. The Economist, "Martín Vizcarra tries to end his presidency early," 1 Aug. 2019 But decades of political gridlock, electoral corruption, and dysfunction in our system of government have forced scholars, activists, and citizens to question the document’s ability to address the thorniest issues of modern political life. Dan Baum, Harpers Magazine, "October 2019," 16 Sep. 2019

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


1981, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about gridlock

Statistics for gridlock

Last Updated

12 Oct 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).


to be made up of

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Where in the World? A Quiz

  • peter bruegel tower of babel painting
  • What language does pajama come from?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

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!