meaning of stalemate


A stalemate is an impasse in a contest, a point where neither player — usually in chess — can win or lose.

Stalemate is from an Old French word, estal, which means “place,” “position,” or “stand.” To be in a stalemate with an opponent is to be in a locked position, or a stalled place, where neither player can make a profitable move. Chess is the most common context for a stalemate, but any contest or negotiation can result in a stalemate: “The discussions about buying their competitor’s waffle house reached a stalemate and the deal died.”

Definitions of stalemate
  1. noun

    a situation in which no progress can be made or no advancement is possible


    dead end, deadlock, impasse, standstill

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    type of:


    a complex or critical or unusual difficulty

  2. noun

    drawing position in chess: any of a player’s possible moves would place his king in check

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    type of:

    draw, standoff, tie

    the finish of a contest in which the score is tied and the winner is undecided

  3. verb

    subject to a stalemate

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    type of:

    go, move

    have a turn; make one’s move in a game

Word Family

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