stale·​mate | \ ˈstāl-ˌmāt How to pronounce stalemate (audio) \

Definition of stalemate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a drawing position in chess in which a player is not in checkmate but has no legal move to play
2 : a drawn contest : deadlock also : the state of being stalemated


stalemated; stalemating; stalemates

Definition of stalemate (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to bring into a stalemate

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Examples of stalemate in a Sentence


The budget debate ended in a stalemate. The new agreement could break the stalemate. The budget debate ended in stalemate.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Gustavo Cabellero/NBC News/MSNBC/Telemundo The controversy over whether Democrats will hold a debate focused on climate change has been at a stalemate for weeks, but lately, there’s been a little movement. David Roberts, Vox, "We might get a climate debate after all. Here are 10 questions to ask candidates.," 3 July 2019 The 4-year tiff between a firm backed by Craig Mateer, founder of Orlando baggage-handling company Bags Inc., and financial giant Deutsche Bank is at a stalemate. Ryan Gillespie,, "‘Goliath vs. Goliath’: How a sliver of land and a fence has pit Bags Inc. founder vs. Deutsche Bank," 28 June 2019 Settlement discussions appear at a stalemate, and a wrongful death lawsuit feels imminent. Ross Dellenger,, "'The Fraternity Nobody Wants to Be Part Of:' Marty McNair, Mike Locksley's Unique Bond," 13 June 2019 That gun debate would still be mired in stalemate if the mush-mouths at Democratic HQ in Washington had their way. Will Bunch,, "The anti-Trump resistance hits a wall: The Democratic Party establishment | Will Bunch," 1 Mar. 2018 La Roja fared well in their debut match, holding Sweden to a stalemate until the latter stages of the Group F opener until the more experienced side broke through for a 2-0 victory. Avi Creditor,, "LIVE: USA Seeks Another Big Women's World Cup Win vs. Chile," 16 June 2019 The question is which side will relent first to end the stalemate. Jared Diamond, WSJ, "Baseball’s All-Unemployed Team," 11 Feb. 2019 The two sides have been engaged in closed-door talks in an attempt to end the stalemate. Steve Miletich, The Seattle Times, "Will police reforms stick? Here’s Seattle’s plan for showing that," 6 Mar. 2018 Geng reiterated Chinese complaints that U.S. is responsible for a stalemate in negotiations over trade and technology issues that resulted in both sides raising tariffs on each other’s products. Washington Post, "The Latest: China blasts ‘interference” in own affairs," 4 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Using our example, a situation in which a buyer expected a home’s doorbell security camera to be included in the purchase — and the seller expected to take it — could stalemate the sale. Steven P. Dinkin, San Diego Union-Tribune, "The doorbell dilemma: A home sale stalemate," 30 June 2019 The infighting has left vets frustrated, Congress confused — and a key piece of legislation stalemated. Isaac Arnsdorf, ProPublica, "Trump’s VA Firing Spree Falters in Court," 15 May 2019 The union, according to Peter King, in turn asked the NFL for comprehensive data on how teams are distributing prescription painkillers to players, and things stalemated from there. Matt Bonesteel,, "According to Martellus Bennett, NFL players smoke marijuana at a very high rate," 11 Apr. 2018 With the two sides stalemated, the state entered what would become a historic, two-year budget impasse. Kim Geiger,, "Thursday state budget deadline looms in first year of talks after historic stalemate," 25 May 2018 With the bases loaded and the game stalemated at 1-1 at the top of the eighth inning, a pair of infield errors by Apopka helped the Huskies score two runs., "Hagerty takes down Apopka 5-1 in extra innings," 7 Apr. 2018 Throw in hot weather and a confusing war that has stalemated much of the progress that was being made or could be made. Burt Solomon, The Atlantic, "Our Back Pages: The Atlantic and Civil Rights," 4 Apr. 2018 But after the convention stalemated for 35 ballots, delegates stampeded to an alternative all knew as a competent and intelligent candidate, Garfield himself. Kenneth D. Ackerman, Smithsonian, "The Garfield Assassination Altered American History, But Is Woefully Forgotten Today," 2 Mar. 2018 And partisan differences have stalemated spending bills in the Senate. Sarah Binder, Washington Post, "Four takeaways from the short-lived shutdown," 24 Jan. 2018

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


1765, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1765, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for stalemate


obsolete English stale stalemate (from Middle English, from Anglo-French estaler to stalemate, from estal station, position) + English mate entry 1 — more at installment

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Statistics for stalemate

Last Updated

7 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for stalemate

The first known use of stalemate was in 1765

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More Definitions for stalemate



English Language Learners Definition of stalemate

: a contest, dispute, competition, etc., in which neither side can gain an advantage or win
: a situation in chess in which a player cannot successfully move any of the pieces and neither player can win

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Comments on stalemate

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to form ideas or theories about something

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