lock·​down | \ ˈläk-ˌdau̇n How to pronounce lockdown (audio) \

Definition of lockdown

1 : the confinement of prisoners to their cells for all or most of the day as a temporary security measure
2a : an emergency measure or condition in which people are temporarily prevented from entering or leaving a restricted area or building (such as a school) during a threat of danger … the school went on lockdown when a student brought a pellet gun to campus.— Ian Gordon
b : a temporary condition imposed by governmental authorities (as during the outbreak of an epidemic disease) in which people are required to stay in their homes and refrain from or limit activities outside the home involving public contact (such as dining out or attending large gatherings) Authorities placed the central Chinese city under lockdown on Jan. 23 after the virus had infected hundreds of residents and was just starting its spread across the globe.— Darryl Coote The San Francisco Bay Area lockdown and national guidelines signal a rapid escalation of government and business efforts to halt the coronavirus spread via restrictions that will slam the brakes on economic activity.— Ed Carson

Note: Individuals who are employed in various occupational fields (such as healthcare, public works, law enforcement, and food supply) considered essential to public health and safety may continue working outside the home during a lockdown.

Examples of lockdown in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The trend of million-dollar exit is in stark contrast with the mood of industry stakeholders early in the second quarter of the year as African countries began instituting lockdown measures in response to local coronavirus outbreaks. Yomi Kazeem, Quartz Africa, "African tech startups are beating the pandemic’s odds and racking up multimillion-dollar exits," 10 Sep. 2020 Lawmakers also highlighted trouble in the commercial real estate industry, which has taken a beating from lockdown measures and rent deferrals. Rachel Siegel, Washington Post, "In ongoing debate over Fed’s Main Street program, lawmakers reach little consensus," 9 Sep. 2020 Officials said the original fire was started by camp residents angered by the lockdown measures and isolation orders imposed after 35 people tested positive for COVID-19. Star Tribune, "New fire breaks out in crowded refugee camp on Greek island," 9 Sep. 2020 Millennials are getting handier around the home since lockdown measures began, according to new research. People Staff, PEOPLE.com, "Over 80 Percent of Millennials Have Done a DIY Home Improvement Project During Pandemic Shutdown," 9 Sep. 2020 Following the closure of Gas Works Park, the prayer rally was moved to a nearby location, and hundreds attended to hear Sean Feucht, the organizer of several similar rallies across the West Coast, speak against coronavirus lockdown measures. Carly Ortiz-lytle, Washington Examiner, "Seattle officials close park for prayer rally despite allowing 'anti-cop' demonstrations in other parks," 8 Sep. 2020 My 91-year-old mother, a lifelong amateur artist, lives in a large retirement community that imposed strict Covid-19 lockdown measures. Brandon Sanchez, WSJ, "Readers Share Worry, Hope For Isolated Elderly in Covid Pandemic," 7 Sep. 2020 With lockdown measures pushing unemployment to record levels during the pandemic, millions of Californians have been struggling to pay the rent — as many as one in seven households, in some recent surveys. Alexei Koseff, SFChronicle.com, "Newsom signs California eviction moratorium for renters hurt by pandemic," 1 Sep. 2020 As infections soar, the Indian government has continued to lift lockdown measures. Nectar Gan And Esha Mitra, CNN, "India presses ahead with reopening as daily coronavirus caseload surges to record-breaking high," 31 Aug. 2020

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

1973, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of lockdown was in 1973

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Last Updated

13 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Lockdown.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lockdown. Accessed 22 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for lockdown


lock·​down | \ ˈläk-ˌdau̇n How to pronounce lockdown (audio) \

Legal Definition of lockdown

: the confinement of prisoners to their cells for a temporary period as a security measure

More from Merriam-Webster on lockdown

Nglish: Translation of lockdown for Spanish Speakers

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