holding pattern


Definition of holding pattern 

1 : the usually oval course flown (as over an airport) by aircraft awaiting clearance especially to land

2 : a state of waiting or suspended activity or progress

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Examples of holding pattern in a Sentence

Our plane was in a holding pattern for almost an hour because of the fog. repair work on the bridge was in a holding pattern for the duration of the winter

Recent Examples on the Web

According to Indonesia’s official report about the Jan. 6 incident, the co-pilot flying the Batik Air plane failed to follow altitude restrictions after air-traffic controllers instructed both planes to enter a holding pattern near the field. Robert Wall, WSJ, "Lion Air Crash Puts Boeing’s Popular 737 Max in Spotlight," 29 Oct. 2018 Now is in something of a holding pattern before its major redesign that is expected sometime next spring. Chris Welch, The Verge, "The best streaming TV apps," 12 Oct. 2018 But this summer has felt more like a holding pattern for the league than any summer in recent memory. Rohan Nadkarni, SI.com, "NBA Free Agency Needs to Return to Normal in 2019," 10 July 2018 Such systems would be designed to put problem drones into a safe holding pattern, automatically return them to their takeoff point or immediately instruct them to make an emergency landing. Andy Pasztor, WSJ, "U.S., European Air-Safety Agencies Follow Different Paths on Drone Regulation," 22 June 2018 The B-2s left the holding pattern and moved toward the camps at 35,000 feet, on autopilot, doing 480 miles an hour. William Langewiesche, The Atlantic, "An Extraordinarily Expensive Way to Fight ISIS," 21 June 2018 Now, as the two countries contend with trade disagreements, Hollywood finds itself in a frustrating holding pattern in its most important foreign market, waiting for an update to distribution terms that date back to 2012. Wayne Ma, WSJ, "Beijing’s New Superpowers Over Movie Industry Frustrate Hollywood Studios," 27 May 2018 For the next hour and a half the plane flew holding patterns, waiting for a break in the storm, but none came. Jeff Wise, Popular Mechanics, "An Illusion Made FlyDubai Pilots Crash Their Plane Into the Ground," 25 Apr. 2016 Air France-KLM, along with investors that include Delta and China Eastern, must be hoping this holding pattern is very brief indeed. David Meyer, Fortune, "Air France-KLM Thinks Having 3(!) CEOs Is a Great Idea," 16 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'holding pattern.' 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 holding pattern

circa 1952, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Last Updated

23 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for holding pattern

The first known use of holding pattern was circa 1952

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More Definitions for holding pattern

holding pattern


English Language Learners Definition of holding pattern

: a course flown by an aircraft while waiting for permission to land

More from Merriam-Webster on holding pattern

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for holding pattern

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