a state in which progress is impossible, as in a dispute, produced by the counteraction of opposing forces; standstill; stalemate: The union and management reached a deadlock over fringe benefits.
a maximum-security cell for the solitary confinement of a prisoner.

verb (used with or without object)

to bring or come to a deadlock.

Origin of deadlock

First recorded in 1770–80; dead + lock1
Related formsun·dead·locked, adjective

Synonyms for deadlock Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for deadlock

Contemporary Examples of deadlock

Historical Examples of deadlock

  • However, one was for Bassett and t'other for Ellis, so the deadlock wa'n't broken.

    The Depot Master

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • The situation, thanks to Martinez's stoutness, had reached a deadlock.

  • When the tuna is raised so high he will refuse to come any higher, and then there is a deadlock.

  • Why a deadlock that has lasted over a quarter of a million years?

    Masters of Space

    Edward Elmer Smith

  • There'd be a deadlock when a conclave started checking their claims.

    The Best Made Plans

    Everett B. Cole

British Dictionary definitions for deadlock



a state of affairs in which further action between two opposing forces is impossible; stalemate
a tie between opposite sides in a contest
a lock having a bolt that can be opened only with a key


to bring or come to a deadlock
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

Word Origin and History for deadlock

"complete standstill," from dead (adj.), in its emphatic use, + lock (n.). First attested 1779 in Sheridan's play "The Critic."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper