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

Mansfield 1, Sharon 0 — Peter Oldow broke the stalemate in the 59th minute to propel the Hornets (1-2) to their first victory of the season., "The Bedford High boys’ soccer team continued its pristine start to the season Friday afternoon with a 4-0 win over Boston Latin at West Roxbury, fueled by a hat trick from forward Jesse Collins.," 14 Sep. 2019 To break the stalemate, some conspirators are looking to the U.S. to devise a plan to protect government insiders who turn against Maduro from future prosecution. Joshua Goodman,, "U.S. talks secretly to Venezuela socialist party boss," 19 Aug. 2019 It’s time to break the political stalemate — time for congressional leaders of both parties and the president to act. California Newspapers Partnership Editorial Boards, The Mercury News, "Editorial: We must put public safety before politics to save American lives," 11 Aug. 2019 DeWine, after largely staying out of budget talks, ended up proposing removing all tax policy from the budget to try to break the stalemate. Andrew J. Tobias,, "State budget deal keeps business tax deduction, film tax credit," 16 July 2019 Our volunteer Harriet broke the long-simmering stalemate last week. Tim Evans, Indianapolis Star, "Getting a seller to make good on a bad pony deal and 4 more IndyStar Call for Action success stories," 10 June 2019 Or there could be another stalemate, which could conceivably lead to yet another national vote, probably early next year. Noga Tarnopolsky, Los Angeles Times, "Tight race and high stakes for Israel’s Netanyahu in Tuesday’s vote," 17 Sep. 2019 Does the path out of our current era of stalemate, minority rule, and executive abuse require amending the Constitution? Dan Baum, Harpers Magazine, "October 2019," 16 Sep. 2019 Polls predict another stalemate, setting up a possible third election. Kim Hjelmgaard, USA TODAY, "It's Israel's election but here's why Donald Trump is the 'King of Israel'," 16 Sep. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

And the talks have been essentially stalemated since on these last two. CBS News, "Transcript: Michael Vickers talks with Michael Morell on "Intelligence Matters"," 28 Aug. 2019 After that, the teams stalemated for much of the game. Christian Simmons,, "Cooper, Anderson and Castro each get 3 RBI as Marlins blow out Padres to open home series," 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,, "Mets get Cano tape-measure shot in eighth to snap tie, sink Marlins," 14 July 2019 Using our example, a situation in which a buyer expected a home’s doorbell security camera to be included in the purchase — and the seller expected to take it — could stalemate the sale. Steven P. Dinkin, San Diego Union-Tribune, "The doorbell dilemma: A home sale stalemate," 30 June 2019 The infighting has left vets frustrated, Congress confused — and a key piece of legislation stalemated. Isaac Arnsdorf, ProPublica, "Trump’s VA Firing Spree Falters in Court," 15 May 2019 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

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 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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