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

Although Afghan troops have managed to fend off Taliban advances or retake many towns from Taliban control, U.S. officials say the war is at best a precarious stalemate. Chris Megerian, Los Angeles Times, "Trump cancels U.S. meeting with Taliban and Afghanistan president," 7 Sep. 2019 The next few innings turned into a stalemate, with both teams fighting to break through with a run, and both coming up short. Christian Simmons,, "Marlins slip past Padres with clutch hit in bottom of ninth," 18 July 2019 The current budget runs through June 30, but state government would not shut down if there is a stalemate. Scott Bauer, Twin Cities, "Conservative budget foes put Wisconsin GOP in tough spot," 20 June 2019 The scoreline would suggest that the goalless draw between Japan and Argentina was a dull stalemate, but that would not do justice to what Argentina achieved on a balmy Parisian evening in the Parc de Princes. Aimee Lewis And George Ramsay, CNN, "Draw secures Argentina its first point in Women's World Cup history," 10 June 2019 The war entered a long, bloody stalemate for the next two years., "July 10, 1951: Cease-fire talks open in Korea," 10 July 2018 Another possibility, however, would be a prolonged stalemate. David Lauter,, "Trump's immigration plan quickly hits a wall. Here's why," 26 Jan. 2018 The Trump administration increased the U.S. commitment to the country more than a year ago by authorizing nearly 4,000 additional troops for what war commanders described at the time as a stalemate. John Fritze, USA TODAY, "Trump says US will maintain 8,600 troops in Afghanistan after major withdrawal," 29 Aug. 2019 The negotiations between Peter O’Malley and Tommy reached an apparent stalemate. Los Angeles Times, "Dodgers Dugout: Remember that time Joe Morgan almost became Dodgers manager?; previewing Dodgers-Yankees," 23 Aug. 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

15 Sep 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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miscellaneous remnants or debris

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