Definition of checkmate in English:



  • 1[mass noun] A position in which a player's king is directly attacked by an opponent's piece or pawn and has no possible move to escape the check. The attacking player thus wins the game.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The author next introduces the concept of checkmate, which is, after all, what one seeks to achieve in the game.’
    • ‘If you know what you're doing, and keep at it long enough, you'll eventually achieve a checkmate.’
    • ‘This seemed logical enough since it allowed easy development and also allowed me to aim for the four-move checkmate!’
    • ‘A final blow, White now threatens checkmate in one move and Black is lost by force.’
    • ‘This is a fun book that will help many players, either as a basic starting point in the study of checkmate tactics or as a refresher.’
    • ‘I got his queen, then he got mine, so I got a pawn to his side and got him in checkmate.’
    • ‘This could be a checkmate if it weren't for Floyd's knight in the way.’
    • ‘To move her bishop to strike his knight would leave the king open on two sides without escape, a checkmate.’
    • ‘Yet in spite of the significance of these developments we should remember the main objective in chess - checkmate ends the game.’
    • ‘Resignation occurs in the vast majority of tournament games, while actual checkmates are quite rare.’
    • ‘But neither player could deliver checkmate, so a draw was agreed on move 49.’
    • ‘He was fresh out of ideas, and his next move could be checkmate.’
    • ‘For example, it is not possible to force a checkmate with a king and two knights against a lone king.’
    • ‘Can I now just force checkmate with a sequence of checks?’
    • ‘Baker's whole game plan seems to be based on checkmate.’
    • ‘The King is very close to the corner of the board and Black threatens checkmate in two!’
    • ‘A dream of every chess player is to win the game with a quick checkmate.’
    • ‘After that, Leon would be able to put him into a checkmate.’
    • ‘I couldn't take it with the king or I would be moving into checkmate.’
    1. 1.1[as exclamation]Said by a player to announce that the opponent's king is in the position of checkmate.
    2. 1.2A final defeat or deadlock.
      ‘if the rebel forces succeed in cutting off the road, they will have achieved checkmate’
      • ‘This movement signals a departure from totalitarian politics in the country that have smothered civil life, made the state a facade and held society in checkmate with constant threats of civil war and external enemies.’
      • ‘Perhaps this checkmate will, over time, deprive the opposition of its support and erode the appeal of democracy.’
      • ‘Cain retained his confident smile, like chess master watching his opponent move closer and closer to their own checkmate.’
      • ‘Tomorrow, it's a high stakes game of chess where a checkmate means you might be checked out of Hollywood.’
      • ‘With its elegiac note of a civilisation falling apart while two old men continue their moves toward checkmate, the story is a luminous exploration of a culture that is both realisable yet tantalisingly intangible.’
      • ‘Clearly, however, the dictator and his cronies are worried since this is a classic delaying gambit akin to racing chess pieces around the board in a desperate attempt to stave off impending checkmate.’
      stalemate, impasse, checkmate, stand-off
      View synonyms


  • 1 Put into checkmate.

    • ‘The times your own pieces have been blocked by the knights and bishops you seem bent on protecting, leaving me free to checkmate you, are uncountable.’
    • ‘The answer to the puzzle hinges on a chess problem Oliver Garland counts on his son to solve, wherein black can checkmate white in two moves or less.’
    • ‘‘It looks like checkmate to me,’ Dravis commented.’
    • ‘Leaning forward to his opponent he moves all pieces from both sides around the board until he has finally checkmated his way to victory.’
    • ‘The object of the game is to checkmate your opponent's king.’
    • ‘After he checkmated her the second time, she sighed and sat back after knocking her king over.’
    • ‘I can just keep on checking you, forcing you to move where I want you to before I bring down my other pieces and checkmate.’
    • ‘I had one middle-aged student who stubbornly refused to castle, saying that his King would be trapped in the corner and checkmated.’
    • ‘Ray knew as well as Leon did that there wasn't a single move that Chris could make that wouldn't give Leon an opportunity to checkmate him.’
    • ‘Surprisingly enough I even managed to checkmate the computer, though I think I had some help from my companion.’
    • ‘Once Matt checkmated him, and twice Rick stalemated him.’
    • ‘As a consequence, it is theoretically possible to play a perfect game of chess - that is, both players could always work out the exact sequence of optimum moves, right through to checkmate.’
    • ‘It is a rule of chess that we win the game by checkmating the king.’
    • ‘But taking the knight left my rook a wide open path to move across the board and checkmate your king.’
    • ‘I was checkmated on move 27; Mr. Kasparov had moved on to examine the position on the board to my left before I'd even realized that the game was over.’
    • ‘Black is seated across from you and makes one move, and you are checkmated.’
    • ‘Good Chess players rarely play a game to checkmate: they resign when it becomes clear they cannot win in other words, when the game has ceased to be dramatic.’
    • ‘But that day things went in our favour and Humpy checkmated her opponent.’
    1. 1.1Defeat or frustrate totally.
      ‘the vice president checkmated that strategy’
      • ‘Karl Kraus, Vienna's famous satirist, once said in his unique way: ‘Diplomacy is a game of chess wherein the peoples are checkmated.’’
      • ‘How in the world do we ever expect to win this war, and, if the war is not winnable in the traditional sense, how do we contain or checkmate this enemy?’
      • ‘They've got you checkmated on the military option.’
      • ‘And not surprisingly, the vice president checkmated that strategy by selecting a running mate who is not afraid to speak for religious values in the public square.’
      • ‘Though the government is mapping out sophisticated strategies to checkmate their unauthorized intruders.’
      • ‘Their refusal means that Congress members are checkmated from mentioning such matters in public.’
      • ‘So I don't hate you now, and I don't even want to checkmate you now.’
      • ‘Jason toys with his guilt, rationalizes it, checkmates it before it can trap him.’
      • ‘Each believes it can find new allies that will help it checkmate or counterattack.’
      • ‘I really don't believe he will checkmate people.’
      • ‘His mind seemed to function like a computer: it anticipated each move of his opponent and was prepared to checkmate the manoeuvre.’
      • ‘The integrity-challenged King has been a courtroom star, fending off lawsuits and criminal indictments like a chess master who checkmates or at least stalemates all comers.’


Middle English: from Old French eschec mat, from Arabic šāh māta, from Persian šāh māt the king is dead.