Definition of stalemate in English:



  • 1[mass noun] A position counting as a draw, in which a player is not in check but cannot move except into check:

    ‘last time I played him it ended up in stalemate’
    • ‘And so the chess game has produced another stalemate.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It could take the scientist years to learn that a pawn on the eighth row can become a queen, rook, bishop, or knight, or exactly what checkmates and stalemates are.’
    1. 1.1 A situation in which further action or progress by opposing or competing parties seems impossible:
      ‘the war had again reached stalemate’
      • ‘Military stalemate in the Mid-Atlantic region in 1778 encouraged British commanders to reconsider again their strategic policy.’
      • ‘The Justice Ministers could not agree on the matter last week and despite efforts by diplomats to resolve it over the last few days, it reached a stalemate.’
      • ‘When power is divided, as it has been since 1994, the checks and balances of government make for legislative stalemate.’
      • ‘The 3-3 stalemate remained until half time despite several promising moves from both sides.’
      • ‘The Council for Industrial and Commercial Development yesterday held a forum to urge the government to move away from the current stalemate.’
      • ‘A stalemate had been reached in which the opposition could not unseat the government by force and the government could not reassert full control.’
      • ‘Now officials have warned that if negotiations reach stalemate today they will resort to legal action.’
      • ‘The legislation would end a two-year stalemate between congressional agriculture policy leaders and budget experts.’
      • ‘They came up with the scheme after plans for a one-way system reached a stalemate.’
      • ‘The creatures on each end of the fishing tackle pulled with equal force and stalemate ensued.’
      • ‘A mediator can break this stalemate and get the parties talking.’
      • ‘The stalemate remains firmly entrenched, with no one party having overall control of the Council for the third poll in a row.’
      • ‘By the spring of 1915, the war had entered the stalemate of trench warfare.’
      • ‘The general election produced a stalemate, with opposition and pro-government parties each ending up with 25 seats in the 50-seat parliament.’
      • ‘By 1807 the protracted war between Britain and Napoleonic France had reached a stalemate.’
      • ‘It also proved a lesson in patience for a loud and enthusiastic crowd who anticipated a thrilling fourth day but instead watched the Test progress towards a dull stalemate.’
      • ‘Darren Schofield was the player to break the stalemate eight minutes from the end.’
      • ‘Workers and management at a Great Harwood engineering depot have reached stalemate over pay claims.’
      • ‘Contract talks between Saints and their Great Britain full back star Paul Wellens reached stalemate at a meeting held at Knowsley Road.’
      • ‘For more than three months both sides have refused to budge, with officials last week conceding they'd reached a stalemate.’
      deadlock, impasse, standstill, dead end, stand-off, draw, tie, dead heat
      View synonyms


  • Bring to or cause to reach stalemate:

    ‘the currently stalemated peace talks’
    • ‘Nick managed to move his battered body quickly enough to launch his own counter-blast, successfully stalemating the battleship's beam.’
    • ‘The teachers and district negotiators have stalemated on health care, early retirement incentives, salaries, duties and time.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Those strains on business have affected any number of stakeholders in the electricity sector; they are unable to plan, unwilling to invest, and stalemated in their attempts to devise a way out of the current dilemma.’
    • ‘At the heart of the matter is the long drawn-out unresolved and stalemated civilizational struggle, which refuses to blow away, and in fact demands final resolution.’
    • ‘The match layout trying to show both as being equals in power was not the type of farewell that the fans were hoping for, as indicated by the ravenous boos every time they wound up stalemating.’
    • ‘Both teams were then stalemated until the start of the second half.’
    • ‘That strike ended with negotiations, which stalemated a week ago.’
    • ‘As a result, shareholder activism has been stalemated in this arena, and institutional shareholders want a new weapon.’
    • ‘The debate about whether genres can or should be taught explicitly has often stalemated between the poles of teaching rigid rules to students who then mimic them and not teaching genres because acquiring them is an implicit process.’
    • ‘Twice Rick has stalemated him, and once Matt managed to beat him, after a long and difficult battle lasting two and a half hours.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The simplest assessment is that it means no changes in the status quo: the round is stalemated for now, though there will be attempts, however faint, to revive it in Geneva in the months to come.’
    • ‘This issue is not stalemated somewhere; it is not in some sort of freeze-frame mode; it is moving ahead, and this bill provides the extra time required.’
    • ‘Thus the major threat to society has been neutralized, but acts of resistance remain, the argument never finished, never answered, simply stalemated.’
    • ‘By December 1943, the Allies had failed to break the Gustav Line and the Italian campaign was stalemated.’
    • ‘The two sides are stalemated over issues such as salaries and health insurance for both retirees and current teachers.’
    • ‘His trademark was a rare combination of quickness and power, but last season the motor never shifted into overdrive and Russell too often was stalemated by what seemed to be inferior talent.’
    • ‘Gulliver's power was no longer neutralised and stalemated by another player of equivalent weight.’
    • ‘This article concludes by suggesting ways in which the currently stalemated debate might be revitalized by principled interventions from scholars and concerned citizens.’


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