Definition of stalemate in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈstālˌmāt/


1A position counting as a draw, in which a player is not in check but cannot move except into check.
Example sentences
  • The often-criticized rule that stalemate is a draw also increases Chess's drama, by giving a player hope of salvaging something even after he can no longer win.
  • Throwing in the proverbial towel is, however, not an option according to the rules of this particular contest, which state that the game can only end with checkmate or stalemate.
  • So don't tell me that this game will eventually come to a stalemate like chess, where the player turns over his king and quits.
1.1A situation in which further action or progress by opposing or competing parties seems impossible: the war had again reached stalemate
More example sentences
  • A mediator can break this stalemate and get the parties talking.
  • Workers and management at a Great Harwood engineering depot have reached stalemate over pay claims.
  • Now officials have warned that if negotiations reach stalemate today they will resort to legal action.
deadlock, impasse, standoff;
draw, tie, dead heat


[with object]
Bring to or cause to reach stalemate: (as adjective stalemated) the currently stalemated peace talks
More example sentences
  • This article concludes by suggesting ways in which the currently stalemated debate might be revitalized by principled interventions from scholars and concerned citizens.
  • Nick managed to move his battered body quickly enough to launch his own counter-blast, successfully stalemating the battleship's beam.
  • Fitzsimmons notes that prior to 4 August, debates in the National Assembly were largely stalemated between those legislators who wanted reform and those who wanted to preserve the status quo.


Mid 18th century: from obsolete stale (from Anglo-Norman French estale 'position', from estaler 'be placed') + mate2.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: stale·mate

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Related Words