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[steyl-meyt] /ˈsteɪlˌmeɪt/
Chess. a position of the pieces in which a player cannot move any piece except the king and cannot move the king without putting it in check.
any position or situation in which no action can be taken or progress made; deadlock:
Talks between union and management resulted in a stalemate.
verb (used with object), stalemated, stalemating.
to subject to a stalemate.
to bring to a standstill.
verb (used without object), stalemated, stalemating.
to be or result in a stalemate or standoff:
Negotiations stalemated when new salary demands were introduced.
Origin of stalemate
late Middle English
1755-65; late Middle English stale stalemate (whence Anglo-French estale) (apparently special use of stale1) + mate2
Related forms
unstalemated, adjective
2. impasse, standoff, standstill. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for stalemate
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He seems to have reached a psychological impasse or stalemate.

  • "But it looks as though the best we can do is to stalemate," Bradley argued.

    Triplanetary Edward Elmer Smith
  • Although, it is rather near a stalemate for us both, isn't it?

    The Thing from the Lake

    Eleanor M. Ingram
  • However, at least for the moment, he had reached a stalemate.

    Trading Jeff and his Dog James Arthur Kjelgaard
  • "But it looks as though the best we can do is a stalemate," Bradley argued.

    Triplanetary Edward Elmer Smith
British Dictionary definitions for stalemate


a chess position in which any of a player's possible moves would place his king in check: in this position the game ends in a draw
a situation in which two opposing forces find that further action is impossible or futile; deadlock
(transitive) to subject to a stalemate
Word Origin
C18: from obsolete stale, from Old French estalstall1 + mate²
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 stalemate

1765, in chess, from stale "stalemate" (early 15c.) + mate (n.2) "checkmate." Middle English stale is probably from Anglo-French estale "standstill" (see stall (n.2)). A misnomer, because a stale is not a mate. "In England from the 17th c. to the beginning of the 19th c. the player who received stalemate won the game" [OED]. Figurative sense is recorded from 1885.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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