stale·mate | \ˈstāl-ˌmāt \

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

The operation to recapture Hodeidah is aimed at depriving the Houthis of their main economic and military lifeline in the hope this will end the stalemate and pressure the rebels to agree to a political solution. Dion Nissenbaum, WSJ, "Yemen Forces Push Toward Rebel-Held Port as Clash Escalates," 14 June 2018 With time running out on the annual legislative session, the Florida House ended the stalemate on a gaming bill late Thursday, offering to allow three counties to add slot machines to their horse or dog tracks. Mary Ellen Klas, miamiherald, "Lawmakers revive gambling talks with proposal to allow slot machines in more counties | Miami Herald," 8 Mar. 2018 The bill did not include DREAMers so Democrats blocked it; to end the stalemate, Schumer agreed to a deal with McConnell that called for the Senate to take up DREAMer legislation. USA TODAY, "Senate immigration debate grinds to a halt before it even starts," 14 Feb. 2018 The two previously struck a deal that included taking up DREAMer legislation in order to end a stalemate that caused the government to shut down. Thomas Novelly, The Courier-Journal, "Chuck Schumer tells McConnell - in Louisville - that an immigration deal 'won't be easy'," 12 Feb. 2018 At her news conference Thursday in Quito, Espinosa lamented that Ecuador's latest attempts to resolve the stalemate in a way acceptable to Britain were leaked prematurely. Author: William Branigin, Simeon Tegel, Karla Adam, Anchorage Daily News, "Ecuador grants citizenship to Julian Assange in bid to end London embassy standoff," 11 Jan. 2018 Immigration has eclipsed every other domestic issue in terms of political stalemate. Paul Kane, Anchorage Daily News, "Congress' record on immigration is repeated failures," 24 June 2018 Immigration has eclipsed every other domestic issue in terms of political stalemate. Paul Kane,, "Congress' record on immigration is repeated failures," 23 June 2018 An inconclusive election led to months of stalemate. Jason Horowitz, New York Times, "Italy’s Populist Parties Win Approval to Form Government," 31 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 But Larson was among the 105 representatives to approve the bill after debate ended, though property tax reform ultimately failed when the two chambers stalemated. Jasper Scherer, San Antonio Express-News, "Abbott ad targets Larson’s voting record," 20 Feb. 2018 But the truth is that the battle was stalemated until Trump came into office and unleashed the military with new rules of engagement. Jonathan S. Tobin, National Review, "What Syria Teaches Us About ‘America First’," 25 Jan. 2018 Instead, everyone lines up and simply tries to plug his hole or stalemate his blocker. Andy Benoit,, "What’s Wrong With the Patriots Defense? Plenty," 8 Sep. 2017

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

13 Oct 2018

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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

What made you want to look up stalemate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


evasion of direct action or statement

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