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

Britain’s Brexit talks are at a troubling stalemate—a major problem, especially as the country is due to leave the European Union by March 29. Elise Taylor, Vogue, "How Kate Middleton, Doria Ragland, and More Reacted to the Royal Baby News," 15 Oct. 2018 More than 10,000 people have been killed in the war zone, and although the conflict is at a stalemate, cease-fires are constantly violated and the death toll rises. David Satter, WSJ, "Putin’s Aggression Is the Issue in Helsinki," 15 July 2018 At least in theory, that stalemate is coming to an end. Salvador Rizzo, Washington Post, "President Trump’s exaggerated claims about the North Korea deal," 2 July 2018 Nuclear negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington have settled into a stalemate since the summit meeting between Kim and Trump. Fox News, "North Korea's Kim Jong Un expresses faith in Trump, reaffirms commitment to nuclear-free peninsula," 6 Sep. 2018 But the Diamondbacks led off the fifth with a double by Ketel Marte and a single by Chris Owings to break the stalemate. Andre C. Fernandez, miamiherald, "Offense comes too late for Marlins to back up rebound performance from Wei-Yin Chen," 27 June 2018 Fans were left sweating as he was ultimately left out for the stalemate at Anfield., "Jurgen Klopp Provides Update on Sadio Mane's Fitness As Attacker Misses Stoke Stalemate," 28 Apr. 2018 Analysts have warned that once negotiations begin with the United States, North Korea could push them into a stalemate by trying to drag Washington into nuclear arms reduction talks. Choe Sang-hun, New York Times, "North and South Korea Set Bold Goals: A Final Peace and No Nuclear Arms," 27 Apr. 2018 Those weapons allegedly included ballistic missiles used to target Saudi Arabia, which leads a military coalition of Arab nations backed by the United States that is stuck in a stalemate war with the Houthis. Jon Gambrell,, "Report: Bombs disguised as rocks in Yemen show Iranian aid," 26 Mar. 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

8 Dec 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).


the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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