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[chek-meyt] /ˈtʃɛkˌmeɪt/
Also called mate. Chess.
  1. an act or instance of maneuvering the opponent's king into a check from which it cannot escape, thus bringing the game to a victorious conclusion.
  2. the position of the pieces when a king is checkmated.
a complete check; defeat:
His efforts to escape met with a checkmate.
verb (used with object), checkmated, checkmating.
Chess. to maneuver (an opponent's king) into a check from which it cannot escape; mate.
to check completely; defeat:
Napoleon was checkmated at Waterloo.
Chess. (used by a player to announce that he or she has put the opponent's king into inextricable check.)
Origin of checkmate
1300-50; Middle English chek mat(e) < Middle French escec mat < Arabic shāh māt < Persian: literally, the king (is) checked, nonplussed
Related forms
uncheckmated, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for checkmate
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • She got their whole plan and went along to try to checkmate them.

    Poisoned Air Sterner St. Paul Meek
  • He moved about the board with an assumption that said, I can checkmate you when I will!

    Barrington Charles James Lever
  • I can see that he is artfully intriguing for Mr. Wharton's favor, but I must checkmate him.

    The Cash Boy Horatio Alger Jr.
  • It was the cruellest thing to checkmate him after so much labour, she considered.

    A Pair of Blue Eyes Thomas Hardy
  • Therefore, it is imperative that we know Grant's plans so that we can checkmate them.

    The Lost Despatch Natalie Sumner Lincoln
  • His enemies knew this, and they did their best to checkmate him.

    The Camp in the Snow William Murray Graydon
  • Each player tried to checkmate the other by the skillful use of his men.

    Museum of Antiquity L. W. Yaggy
  • From now on we should be able to checkmate them pretty neatly.

    Walter and the Wireless Sara Ware Bassett
British Dictionary definitions for checkmate


  1. the winning position in which an opponent's king is under attack and unable to escape
  2. the move by which this position is achieved
utter defeat
verb (transitive)
(chess) to place (an opponent's king) in checkmate
to thwart or render powerless
(chess) a call made when placing an opponent's king in checkmate
Word Origin
C14: from Old French eschec mat, from Arabic shāh māt, the king is dead; see check
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for checkmate

mid-14c., from Old French eschec mat (Modern French échec et mat), which (with Spanish jaque y mate, Italian scacco-matto) is from Arabic shah mat "the king died" (see check (n.1)), which according to Barnhart is a misinterpretation of Persian mat "be astonished" as mata "to die," mat "he is dead." Hence Persian shah mat, if it is the ultimate source of the word, would be literally "the king is left helpless, the king is stumped."


late 14c.; see checkmate (n.). Related: Checkmated; checkmating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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