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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In the Senate, negotiators were still grasping for a bipartisan deal that could break the stalemate. New York Times, 8 June 2022 When asked whether Biden was willing to take concrete steps to break the stalemate, the official said that the administration was looking for serious engagement, not grand gestures. Reuters, NBC News, 22 May 2022 European officials are preparing to make a fresh push to salvage a nuclear deal with Iran, offering to send a top EU negotiator to Tehran in an effort to break a stalemate in talks, according to Western diplomats. WSJ, 2 May 2022 Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, who helped break a stalemate between teachers and the district in 2017, urged both sides there to do everything possible to end the strike immediately. The Christian Science Monitor, 24 Mar. 2022 Smith had multiple impressive runs throughout the second half, forcing the Chicago goalkeeper into uncomfortable positions and nearly scoring to break the stalemate. oregonlive, 11 Mar. 2022 The Gerson-Neeveses moved the box to a less-central area of the kitchen, hoping the change in geography would end the stalemate. Washington Post, 8 Jan. 2022 Always a seeker of actionable solutions, Dole tirelessly worked across the aisle with his Democratic counterparts, with one pivotal example being his efforts in 1983 to break Congressional stalemate and save Social Security from financial crisis. Bill Frist, Forbes, 6 Dec. 2021 Both teams endured field-goal droughts midway through the half but UAB was able to break the stalemate with a 3-pointer from Justin Brown with 8:47 remaining. Evan Dudley, al, 18 Nov. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The six commissioners — three Democrats and three Republicans — frequently stalemate along party lines, resulting in dismissals of cases. Meg Kinnard, ajc, 20 July 2022 Even so, the accord was embraced by Biden and enactment would signal a significant turnabout after years of gun massacres that have yielded little but stalemate in Congress. Alan Fram, ajc, 12 June 2022 Even so, the accord was embraced by Biden and enactment would signal a significant turnabout after years of gun massacres that have yielded little but stalemate in Congress. Alan Fram, Chicago Tribune, 12 June 2022 That’s because they are either controlled politically by Republicans who oppose gun restrictions or are politically divided, leading to stalemate. Globe Staff,, 27 May 2022 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 See More

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.

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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The first known use of stalemate was in 1765

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Last Updated

2 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Stalemate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Aug. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on stalemate

Nglish: Translation of stalemate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of stalemate for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about stalemate


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