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

Noun 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 Supporters of the country-by-country accords say isolating Israel failed to overcome decades of stalemate on Palestinians' demand for their own state with its capital in East Jerusalem. Ellen Knickmeyer, Star Tribune, 9 June 2021 What remains of Islamic State is making the best of the international stalemate. Isabel Coles, WSJ, 9 June 2021 Nine years later, with no clear political settlement, in making the decision to withdraw President Biden avoided several mistakes that enabled the previous decades of stalemate. Mike Hayes, Time, 29 Apr. 2021 In these early days, Biden’s presidency has been less a transformation than a continuation of the partisan stalemate that has existed since the end of the Cold War. Matthew Continetti, National Review, 27 Mar. 2021 The extended benefits were part of the new relief bill passed by Congress in late December after months of stalemate. Matthew Glowicki, The Courier-Journal, 6 Mar. 2021 But the two-year war led to a lengthy and dangerous stalemate and a total freeze in cooperation. Brent Swails And David Mckenzie, CNN, 5 Nov. 2020 There are only these grim later seasons, when all that’s left is to rehash the same loops of defiance and despair, in a long and increasingly tiresome stalemate between irreconcilable realities. New York Times, 26 May 2021 An added plot of intrigue in the stalemate between TVA and ND is the upstart company’s courting of Memphis Light, Gas & Water as a potential customer for electricity generated at Bellefonte. Paul Gattis |, al, 15 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The Emergency Board, composed of 13 Democrats and seven Republicans, had stalemated in April over plans to give those same hospitals millions in zero-interest loans. oregonlive, 6 June 2020 The diplomacy has been stalemated for months, with North Korea pressing the United States to make concessions by year’s end. Washington Post, 10 Dec. 2019 For months, the LNA and the militias have been locked in fierce clashes on Tripoli’s southern outskirts, with the fighting mostly stalemated. Washington Post, 20 Dec. 2019 After coming to office vowing to solve two very different nuclear crises, President Trump finds himself in a bind familiar to his predecessors: careening toward a confrontation with Iran and stalemated with North Korea. David E. Sanger, New York Times, 17 June 2019 The Trump administration has revived several controversial mining proposals that previously were blocked or stalemated. Matthew Ross, The Conversation, 3 Oct. 2019 And the talks have been essentially stalemated since on these last two. CBS News, 28 Aug. 2019 After that, the teams stalemated for much of the game. Christian Simmons,, 17 July 2019 After that, the teams stalemated until the eighth inning, the Mets finally breaking free in the top of the eighth, when Cano went deep to right field, driving in Dominic Smith and putting the Marlins behind by two runs. Christian Simmons,, 14 July 2019

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 entry 1

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Time Traveler for stalemate

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The first known use of stalemate was in 1765

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Statistics for stalemate

Last Updated

15 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Stalemate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jun. 2021.

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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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