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

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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: Noun

But that view shifted over time as a new generation of city officials, urban planners and transportation advocates — motivated by gridlock and environmental worries — began radically reimagining the streets. New York Times, "Major Traffic Experiment in N.Y.C.: Cars All but Banned on Major Street," 8 Aug. 2019 During his role as governor thus far, Lamont has made the issue of transportation a central part his platform — like ending highway gridlock and fixing the state’s aging roads and bridges. Shannon Larson,, "Officials see new transportation center at Bradley International Airport as economic driver for the state," 18 July 2019 Notably, the authors do not cover gridlock and traffic jams, which routinely become emblems of frustration and thwarted escapes in popular culture. Lila Maclellan, Quartz at Work, "Get to know the symbolism in your daily commute," 11 July 2019 While news that traffic is getting worse sounds as incisive as pointing out the sun rises in the east, there was some good news buried within the tales of gridlock and traffic jams. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "Sick of traffic? Get cities to invest in bikes and mass transit, says report," 11 June 2019 But partisan gridlock and decades of delegating responsibility to the president will complicate any legislative challenge to Trump’s tariff threat. Mark Niquette, Fortune, "Trump's Mexico Tariffs Are Coming: Why It's So Hard to Stop Them," 7 June 2019 In the face of gridlock and inaction in Washington, D.C., state lawmakers from New Mexico to Washington state are acting on global warming with legislation and executive orders. Jon Goldin-dubois, The Denver Post, "Guest Commentary: Colorado, and others in the West, lead the way on reducing carbon emissions," 4 June 2019 That has led to concerns about crippling tariffs, border gridlock and shortages of food and medicines. Danica Kirka, The Seattle Times, "Britain faces calls for unity govt amid Brexit impasse," 31 Mar. 2019 Wide sidewalks entice pedestrians, yet the perpetual gridlock of traffic to and from the Bay Bridge is just beyond the curb. John King,, "Chiseled glass tower offers window into SF’s contradictions," 18 July 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.

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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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Statistics for gridlock

Last Updated

14 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

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

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 make a temporary encampment

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