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 Tyler kept at it during the pandemic, using his time in lockdown to try out various techniques and patterns. San Diego Union-Tribune, 31 July 2022 Caught in lockdown in separate cities across Europe in early 2020, multi-instrumentalist Daniel Kessler worked on arrangements that would become Interpol‘s next album, The Other Side of Make-Believe. Tatiana Tenreyro, SPIN, 25 July 2022 Born seven weeks premature in March 2020, Chmiel’s daughter spent her first 19 days of life in pandemic lockdown in a neonatal intensive care unit. Karen Brooks Harper, San Antonio Express-News, 11 July 2022 Government officials touted that Shanghai was COVID-free in early June, but hundreds of thousands of residents remained in lockdown nevertheless. Fox News, 11 July 2022 Still photography project, which captured images of life in lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic. Stephanie Petit, PEOPLE.com, 7 July 2022 By mid-March 2020, chunks of America were already in lockdown, AMC had boarded up its movie theaters, and the country’s toilet-paper reserves were getting wiped out. Saahil Desai, The Atlantic, 5 July 2022 In March 2020, Covid hits and the world is in lockdown. Blair R. Fischer, Rolling Stone, 3 July 2022 While the rest of the world was in lockdown, ship makers at the Chantiers de l'Atlantique shipyard in northwestern France were busy building the 17-deck, 1,073-foot-long vessel. Katie Jackson, USA TODAY, 30 June 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of lockdown

1973, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for lockdown

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The first known use of lockdown was in 1973

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Statistics for lockdown

Last Updated

9 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Lockdown.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lockdown. Accessed 15 Aug. 2022.

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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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