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

This current stalemate is a civil war of sorts — and the union isn’t backing down. Kim Kelly, Teen Vogue, "Hollywood's Labor Force Has Always Had to Fight for Workers' Rights," 23 Apr. 2019 Sirisena met Tuesday with the speaker of Parliament, who’d urged the president to bring Parliament back into session to resolve the stalemate peacefully. Jen Kirby, Vox, "Dueling prime ministers and assassination plots: an escalating crisis in Sri Lanka," 1 Nov. 2018 The apparent stalemate comes with the spring semester over and summer session underway. Susan Snyder,, "Amid tense talks, Community College of Philadelphia issues 'final' contract offer to faculty," 24 May 2018 The tank was invented to break the stalemate of trench warfare on World War I's European battlefields. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "100 Years Ago Today, Tanks Changed Warfare Forever," 15 Sep. 2016 Attempts to reach a compromise that would allow the Legislature to preempt a potential ballot question raising the state minimum wage have reached a stalemate, according to the coalition pushing for the wage increase. Katie Johnston,, "Negotiations on $15 minimum wage, other proposals, stall," 7 June 2018 Two years of talks about oversight of Park Board endowments reached a stalemate toward the end of last year, and then Cranley moved to replace Park Board Chairwoman Dianne Rosenberg. Sharon Coolidge,, "Cincinnati solicitor hired a locksmith to get into Park Board closet," 2 May 2018 The actions of the governor and Legislature appeared to indicate that the confrontation has reached a stalemate. Sean Murphy,, "Oklahoma Republicans refuse to bow to teachers' demands," 10 Apr. 2018 By late 2016, however, those talks appeared to have reached a stalemate, and Mr. Trump’s withdrawal from a similar pact with Pacific Rim countries early in his presidency signaled the death of the European agreement, as well. Milan Schreuer, New York Times, "E.U. Pledges to Fight Back on Trump Tariffs as Trade War Looms," 7 Mar. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 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

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

12 May 2019

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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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